The Times (UK): the last tyrant of Europe is fighting for survival

During the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, a crowd of angry women convinced the Royal police to drop the rifle. Now the women throw a serious challenge to the boorish President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and even threaten to depose him — after 26 years of brutal rule. Whether they will be the key to unlocking how to end the dictatorship, which itself legitimizes the fake elections and the iron hand of the secret police?

To ensure his reelection, Lukashenka does not stop at nothing. The opposition candidate and the works of Sergei Tikhanovski, which regularly talks about the grievances of the Belarusians in their channel on YouTube, put in a detention center, so he missed the deadline.

The place of the retired Tikhanovski took his angry wife Svetlana, after the election campaign across the country, it became the main opponent of Lukashenka. Its meetings under the open sky called for tens of thousands of people. Not far behind in the presidential race and the wife of another candidate from the opposition, as well as counselor back in jail banker Victor Babariko. Thus, the three women prove that the classical authoritarian “training manual” — to play off the opposition with one another — no longer works. And that Lukashenko, although he had in his pocket the state television, lost control and the election is no longer directing.

From the televised debate he dodges with the motivation: “I in any case will win, why do they need?” As for the women at the head of the state, Lukashenka believes that the community for this “not yet ripe”. And that society didn’t let him down, children Svetlana Tikhanovski already threatened violence. She transported them abroad.

Lukashenko is nervous. Most observers expect fraud will be at each stage: at the polling stations, counting of votes and in the courts. It is unlikely that he will allow elections observers from the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe. Tikhanovski saw this coming and urged his supporters to record the voters live. Her campaign is built on the “smart vote” — if you want to remove Lukashenko, vote for her regardless of political views.

Nobel laureate for literature Svetlana Aleksievich, the author of the book “war has no female face”, says that during the reign of the 65-year-old Lukashenko in the country, a new generation with higher requirements to the state. This is especially evident in his response to the coronavirus: at first, Lukashenka called it a “mass psychosis”, but yesterday admitted that he had been ill. People didn’t count. “He thought he was fooling, this quiet people, — says the author. — This has not happened.” A similar effect was observed in other authoritarian States that deny covid-19: when the public security of society is put above the health of citizens, support disappears, especially among women. In addition, the former Chairman of the kolkhoz pathological fear of germs, it would seem, who does not like him to be sensitive to the pandemic.

But no one will even suspect Lukashenko in sensitivity. He deliberately breaks up the society, knowing that at the same time and split the opposition. Over the past 15 years from Belarus, emigrated about 750 thousand workers, and their children often stay at home in the care of grandparents. Keep them at home would have a well-functioning economy, not so dependent on Russian energy. However, the President effectively legalized poverty.

The recipe for long-term survival of Lukashenko is that he has one unique talent to maneuver between Putin’s Russia and Intrusive European Union. However, the patience has started to lose both Putin and the EU. EU — Lukashenka is not even trying to improve the situation with human rights, Putin — Lukashenka Balk the Union of Russia and Belarus. It is significant that instead of the usual complaints that the opposition is secretly supported by the West, Lukashenko blames meddling by the Kremlin.

But when (and if) elections on August 9, Lukashenko’s victory, his opportunities will be severely limited. To rely on the good will of Putin, he will not be able and may even hope that the Russian leader will leave the Kremlin early. He will not be able to count on EU — because that will increase support to new opposition as it appears. It is not excluded that Lukashenka will deliver to China. Beijing sees Belarus as the only socialist country in Europe and as another potential springboard to the EU market. He gave Belarusian development Bank credit line of $ 15 billion and offered a loan of $ 500 million. Lukashenko knows that the trade turnover with China is unlikely to replace Russian, but sees it as a key element of strategic positioning is sufficient to shake Moscow and Washington.

As for female call awkward machismo politics Lukashenko, it seems surprising sophistication. Tikhanovski and her colleagues are demanding the release of all political and economic prisoners. After coming to power, they promise a new election, this time free and fair. This task is modest, but potentially significant. Much will depend on whether the new government, the police and the army, which under Lukashenka, eat hearty and sweet to drink. If this happens without bloodshed, but at the moment it is more like a fairy tale, then they will have to follow the entire world. Belarus, the European pariah state, will show how you can oust a dictator by a simple voting.

Reader comments:

Alasdair Munro

Budapest 1956, Prague 1968, Minsk 2020?


A really brave women and they deserve all the glory we can give them.

Lukasz Sikorski

So, as Russian tyrant isn’t in Europe? Lukashenko compared to him — natured uncle nuts. This article, that the Kremlin sponsored?


By this logic, it turns out that Turkey is not in Europe.

David Wilson

Here it happened in Russia and China.

Adam D

… and England.

Ben Chater

Belorussia under Stalin, and then Hitler lost almost half of its population — as a result of war, famine, genocide and political assassinations. Amazing…

Raymond Lebowski

I wonder whether in General elections, where Putin has not intervened?


When I read the title, thought it is about Nicola Sturgeon.

Jamie Gerry

I’m talking about the European Commission.

Lionel Pettrick

Isn’t it time for the British establishment to abandon the illusion that he is authorized (or able) to intervene in the Affairs of other countries? Our seat on the UN Security Council is like a millstone around the neck.

Hin Lee

Will be interesting to see how China settle in Europe under the tutelage of Mr. Putin.

Mr K Miller

The latest tyrant? And how about Putin? He may have created the appearance of “democracy”, but otherwise he is a mere tyrant.


Lukashenko good riddance. The Following On — Sea! Okay, I probably got a little carried away…

Peter Clarke

If you are a Uyghur, you lifted for a sweet soul!