The Borscht Revolution

WE have had the Green Revolution….Yellow Revolution….Orange Revolution….and so on…..and now we are witnessing the “Borscht Revolution”…..the situation in Belarus.

Why “Borscht”?

It happens to be part of the national cuisine of Belarus….ergo “The Borscht Revolution”.

About now someone is asking…”where the Hell is Belarus?

After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place and current negotiations on further integration have been contentious. Since his election in July 1994 as the country’s first and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place.

The former Soviet republic was occupied by the Nazis between 1941 and 1944, when it lost 2.2 million people, including almost all of its large Jewish population.

Belarus has been ruled with an iron fist since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko. Opposition figures are subjected to harsh penalties for organising protests. In 2005, Belarus was listed by the US as Europe’s only remaining “outpost of tyranny”.

In the Soviet post-war years, Belarus became one of the most prosperous parts of the USSR, but with independence came economic decline. President Lukashenko has steadfastly opposed the privatisation of state enterprises, and the country is heavily dependent on Russia for its energy supplies.

Now with the intro in the bag we go to the violence and protests in Minsk the capital of Belarus.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka has been president of Belarus since 1994, and both citizens and outside observers have roundly questioned the legitimacy of every vote in the country since the one that brought him to power. This one, held on 9 August, was even less transparent than its predecessors. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) complained that it was invited too late to send observers, while staff from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stayed away due to COVID-19. Lukashenka’s primary opponent on the ballot, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, registered to run only a few weeks ago, when her husband, along with other prospective candidates, was prevented from doing so and arrested instead.

Tsikhanouskaya’s central campaign promise was a new, free, fair and transparent election within six months of taking office. Her campaign drew tens of thousands of citizens to its rallies in the lead-up to the vote, the first sign that this time might be different. And, indeed, when Lukashenka claimed to have garnered an improbable 80 per cent of the vote, a lot of Belarusian citizens simply did not believe him. Solid evidence that they are right lies in their own numbers, which grow each day, even as both demonstrators and passersby are arrested en masse; the use of rubber bullets and, reportedly, live ammunition; and the clear signs of torture on the bodies of those released from Lukashenka’s jails, which are rapidly running short of space.

Then there is the threat of a powerful neighbor that could intervene……

Vladimir Putin has agreed to provide protest-engulfed Belarus with security assistance to counter protests if the country requests it, the president of Belarus declared Saturday after more people took to the streets demanding that he resign, the AP reports. President Alexander Lukashenko made the comment on Saturday evening, several hours after a phone call with Putin and after protesters again demanded that he resign after 26 years in power. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday at the spot in the capital of Minsk where a protester died this week in clashes with police. Some stripped off their shirts to display deep bruises they said came from being beaten by police.

Then there is Russia and how they see the situation in Belarus…..

According to the Institute for the Study of War, Belarusian state media had to insert the comment that Lukashenko “would only invite Russian forces “in the event of external military threats” – an aspect the president hadn’t specified.

Usually, state media are a tool for governments to craft their political messaging and a good indicator of government policies. However, in Belarus, one of the major state media tv channels went on strike in support of the demands of the protesters.

This is in the neighborhood of where I have stated that if there is to be a world war it would probably start here in Eastern Europe…..

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4 thoughts on “The Borscht Revolution

  1. Yet another former Soviet republic that became a one-man dictatorship after the collapse of the USSR. I have been to Minsk, back in the day, and still remember when Belarus was shown on maps here as ‘White Russia’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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