Friday, March 17, 2006

More on Belarus

Reading the news and the blogs on the Belarus election being held Sunday there are so many angles and stories that deciphering what is true from what is false is not easy. Many seem to be concerned that post-election demonstrations could get out of hand if Lukashenko wins the election. (Lukashenko has been the president since the mid 90's and has been accused of election tampering among other things.)

Why is Belarus different?
Belarus acts the most like the former Soviet Union of any of the former states. Little change has taken place, and many Belarussians (whether a majority, who knows?) would prefer to keep it that way. Belarus has always kept a firm guard against public protests and gatherings. Even with much less at stake in the past, gatherings draw quick and thorough attention from law enforcement. Since the Orange Revolution occurred in Ukraine, both sides in Belarus see things differently. The opposition has a greater feeling of the possibility of victory through similar methods. Lukashenko, likewise, has seen the possibilities of what took place in Ukraine, and it appears that he is more determined than ever to clamp down on groups that act in opposition.

Bad Possibilities
This mixture appears dangerous. It appears that protests are likely, and hopefully they will all be peaceful. It also appears likely that the authorities will be out in force to curb such protests. If any news takes place in Belarus, don't look for a repeat of the Orange Revolution of Ukraine.

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