Tens of thousands of people rally against Lukashenko in Belarus
Where Can Belarus President Turn Now? Thousands of people were back on the streets protesting this weekend still angry at what they believe was a rigged presidential election President Lukashenko who claimed as he returned to power with an eighty percent approval rate responded by flying over the protesters wearing riot gear with a rifle slung from his shoulder. Well, drained over is L. Editor of Belarus Anna Leasing at the University of Brain and I'm delighted to say she joins us on the line now Auger a very warm welcome to monocle twenty four. These absolutely bizarre scenes of President Lukashenko yesterday. Well. Yes. I was actually also quite as to see you know him banning public with a gun and also his fifteen year old son campaign him so to say so it's the definitely assigned for me that he he's kind of knocked children confidence in front of the people who through testing by his residence, and it's also not you know not that Jerry. Addict from me because the protest is peaceful, protesters will not trying to receive this residents in the state needs. said the wall spread the information that there was some attempt to seek the? Residency so it's quite an emotional psychological reaction from him. I would say and will. Nobody. that. So it's also very strong sign that there is now readiness of from from the official from the state site for any kind of luck that you know this new to build coordination committee by Dehaan Oscar and she team is is trying to do initiate and I think everybody most notably people. In Belarus itself have been absolutely taken aback by the brutality of the reaction by the the Lauren forces to the protesters and the fact that Alexander Lukashenko was was dressed up in riot gear suggests that he doesn't have anywhere to go other than a violent approach. Yes I would also I would also expects it. You know what targeted repressions and they're ready started last week and they continued this week. So what what would serve now is definitely not base wave of unprecedented repression that we. Saw Three days and nights after the elections but still there are targeted repressions and against. Most active people are also criminal case has been initiated against the newly built coordination committee and people. People are invited to some talks with KGB officials until also people actually also bill will try to strike there actually threatened. By the direction openness of the state owned enterprises that they would lose their jobs and so on. So observe already targeted pressure on people, but this wave is still not to the tide because you know. So what international reaction was so the state drives, you know just show from the one handed, it's not ready for the data from the one hand there is the rest of. You know not not to let this protests spread. Within the country how much do you think that's what the foreign observers of said about what's been happening in Belarus for the last couple of weeks is actually forming any decision made by Alexander Lukashenko at the moment. Well I think that it will quite an important aim has been achieved ready and that we actually we have understood that he's not legitimate within the society right within the boat society and I think also problem was that he really did not understand that. Shortly after the elections or before the elections so and. Actually. I think that the reaction was not is at least that. He and his circles really have the distended. Okay. He doesn't have any majority in society, but it has not led so far to his readiness for dialogue just in the all the way he kind of supports the security structures in internal, Misteri Ministry and actually he even gave you know about three hundred medals to those who are actually responsible of for for this incident violence. So he kinds of stresses that the security two structures military is. Actually the most important pillar his powerful for now for the moment, the Steve Kerr show is joining us now he's policy and advocacy. Directorate. Freedom from torture and author of St Spirit Steve. Welcome. Thanks for joining us. Hey On monocle twenty, four Olga a moment ago mentioned the fact that the secret police is still called the KGB I mean, what does that say about the level of influence at Russia's still has in terms of the way that Belarus's going and whether Russia just going to sit this out. Yes I mean I either it reflects influence of Russia, which is August is certainly, very great or it's just almost bizarre retro element to to better under Lukashenko. He doesn't mind thinking in those terms I think it is going to be. So Russia will certainly be an important factor and but at the same time Mosca really doesn't want to be. Getting, further involved in in a very direct since that's going to be difficult for Russia as well. So I think that Lucas. Is playing a very difficult game. If he was giving small confessions, I think he might have some a little bit more success in some homage to blunt things but so far at least the violence has had absolutely opposite effective people become more and more angry the fear obviously quite rightly the last Sunday was absolutely crucial. I would argue that the US huge threats of on ahead of Sunday hoping that people. Would back off and stay at home and actually it was a big rally than ever. So not particular face off. There's no question that Lukashenko loss what happens next we'll still see I'll steve has suggested that Sunday was a pivotal moment some people waiting for what is described as a tipping point when an event causes things to go one way or the other would you say that Sunday was part of that? Tipping Point. Demon this Sunday last Sunday. To Sunday. The Sunday. Just gone when tens of thousands of people came out onto the streets to set by a threat the first Sunday directly after the elections. Yes. I it just completely I mean people never any. Okay. What we're talking about batteries and Ballard who's says, Chris it's not the first Sunday that actions pulses side will have to admit that it also not to the extent that people actually being tortured eating the prisons will have also. took a beast fag, but it's for the first very time that such vast majority of people. So it with their own is is of their families or friends in stone. So you can imagine how many are nets were the strategy when they're where our seven seven thousand arrests. So it's it's quite a big part of the country said it's really I would agree it had an opposite effect and it's also for the first time that you know this special. GRANITZ or gas or a also rubber bullets on there were actually used against own population. It never existed in the history of Belarus in October election protests, people widget shocked and I think it was a shock from the both sides because the state net expected to such mass protest before also before three weeks before the elections would be solved by. About two to five or even six percent of local population came to to railways with Hannele. It's also unprecedented thing was kind of shock from both sides and of course, people people were also by this eighty percent because nobody really believes that anymore I mean. People also really did not quite believe that before I, would say people heading out some kind of feeling that president steelhead had a majority maybe not eighty percent maybe fifty five, maybe sixty but this feeling was there and this style with completely different. So quiet in Jersey, you know quite a big part even I think I would say the majority of people just didn't believe that he actually has any kind of fifty plus and that was the problem that we still have this eighty percents I think people would just. People were just humiliated by that of course, activate shortly afterwards by this unprecedented wave refreshing stave when we look to the further history of batteries, which is being written right now when considering what sort the former eastern bloc countries of have seen in the last three decades. When regime ends, it's generally quite a peaceful affair actually the deleted. is of removed from office. This is unlikely to happen here. Isn't it? Well, I mean, sometimes it has been an sometimes it hasn't been. So when I was a journalist working for the independent, I was the East Europe during the eighty nine revolutions and also join me the fall of Milosevic Milosevic in Serbia and cover dot and there a number of those leaders were ready to use very significant violence and what I'm fascinated by very moved by what was seeing with the courage. A better as protesters today is to see that they are defined vence in the same ways that work very effectively for example, in East Germany where people were threatened with extraordinary for someone particular day in Leipzig in. October nineteen eighty-nine the fact that so many people came out meant regime which had publicly declared its loyalty to force actually back down in Romania I very much. Hope it weren't turn into remain, but we do already see that there are splits within Belarus at the riot police remain loyal. The moment we've seen a number of police units splits off. We've seen a lot of establishment figures putting off in the same way as also does something happened in in Ukraine and the Orange Revolution, and once you see security forces a different security forces splitting away going like enough already as August said, I mean the eighty percent. Claim was was absurdly insulin and the degree of the virus even Grayson seen before and I think this is really interesting. It might end up in huge volumes but I think Lukashenka would lose very very badly that to happen I think it's a regional issue. How if you like bluntly how crazy you are Milosevic. For example, he survived on one occasion ninety seven by giving some concessions and then re clamping down and people just got tired and went back when you use real violence I think it's really difficult. It was a great book written by Richard couple the Polish off I was written about the Iranian revolution. Charlotte. Charlotte's but very much reflected his own country Poland which forty years ago. This month solidarity kind of a huge opposition movement didn't call itself opposition challenge the regime and unthinkable circumstances laying Brezhnev for the very reactionary Russian leader was still in power. They managed to become successful and he said the moment where people stand in front of eastern threatens violence, the pre curry signing backstops, and instead someone stands there and doesn't back down he said, this is where the revolution begins, and after that in effect is the exact the precipice. If you're to violence, you make people more angry if you start making concessions than people go. We have lost our fear and in a sense the certain moment difficult to prediction events but describable. There is no way back to the regime and it still seems a little bit early to say but I think it's very, very difficult to see how Lukashenko come back from this. If he steps back more gently than, of course, it will be peaceful. The protests have been fun tastic peaceful and very, very consciously so far the extended even cleaning up rubbish because I really vary consciously very civic. Minded. So he might just go off and disappear off to Russia for example, and as it will live happily ever after but he tries to bring out all of the guns. Then I think you know all bets are off but I don't think it was a good ending for him whichever way it goes Steve Crozier and Elga agenda over there. Thank you for joining us on monocle twenty four.