31 сакавіка 2006

Detainees start coming out

People who've been detained during the week of protests of Belarus, most of whome got 7 to 15 days sentenses, are coming out of jails in Minsk and the Minsk region. Radio Svaboda is interviewing some of them.

Form the jail on Akrescina Street, around 70 people came out. They were greeted by over 400 people. Each detainee was greeted by chants "Hail to the heroes!" Maryna Kviatkowskaya didn't expect to be greeted by so many people with flowers.

(Crowd: hail the heroic girls of Belarus!)

Kviatkowskaya: I was here for 10 days. I was detained by the October square. In a private car, I was taking some things to the square: a tent, a sleeping bag, a guitar. We got detained by special police. If not for the people who were bringing us food and whatnot... Well, we were hungry.

Dabravolski: A lot of people needed to see this side of life. The most important thing, I haven't met one person in the jail whose spirit would break, wou'd say, "Enough, this is it". On the contrary, everybody has realized that it's all worth it to change all these lies by the state. Nobody broke down, thank God! The prisoner brotherhood that we had here will help us. I didn't expect [so many people greeting us]. I told my friends: Why did you come here at night? (Laughing). It's nice"

Sociologists find amicable divorces can have negative effects on children

While amicable divorces are certainly better than the alternative, particularly when children are involved, a new national study shows they still take a toll on children’s overall wellbeing, as well as their own future marital success.

Full article

30 сакавіка 2006

Solidarity in St Petersburg

These people are few, but I'm sure Belarusians have a lot of appreciation for their moral support.

Saint-Petersburg: people bring flowers to Minsk train

People came out to the square. They were led by their beliefs, the will to voice their opinion, their sense of justice that has been insulted... or even by their desire to drink vodka together! Beating, intimidating, and repressing unarmed people is contemptible. Peacefil citizens, especially women and children, should never be subject of violence by the state.

To support such actions is shameful. To silently support them is twice as shameful. "Beware of the indifferent: because all the betrayal and murder in the world happens with their quiet approval"

That's why on March, 30th we each are going to bring two carnations to the train from Minsk: one white and one red, and at 11 pm to put a candle in the window.

Borders refuses magazine because of Mohammad cartoons

Hat tip: Banafsheh

Buffalo news reports:

Borders Books and Music, one of the country's largest bookstore chains, has refused to stock the latest edition of Free Inquiry magazine because the issue includes controversial cartoons that spurred violent and sometimes deadly protests in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

A Borders spokeswoman said the company declined to sell the Amherst-based publication this month out of concern for the safety of employees and customers.

Sharia vs Free speech: what's the score?

Prison for hedgehogs

Notes from jail by LJ user forion: translated by kapitan-tanaka


29 сакавіка 2006

Democrats' national security plan

Apparently, Democrats offered a new National Security Platform

For months, House and Senate Democrats have tried to craft a comprehensive position on national security, but they have splintered, primarily over Iraq.

So, according to Democrats, Iraq is a really big problem for America. Is it because US victory in Iraq so important? Or is it because Iraq is the easiest way to attack Republicans?

Democrats' biggest problem is that they are reactive, not active. They don't even try offering solutions on national security: instead, they try to gain popularity by criticizing Republicans.

Foreign policy gets more and more difficult and complex. Besides Iran and North Korea to deal with, there are "our friends the Saudis", Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Libia, and a dozen others. There are China and Russia who want more and more influence. The only solution I keep hearing from the Left is, Let's repent and be nice. They either think Americans are stupid, or are stupid themselves.

28 сакавіка 2006


Belarus’ KGB Posing as U.S. Embassy

He was eventually (he doesn’t know how much later, because he lost consciousness) brought to a police station somewhere, and policemen at the station seeing his condition, called an ambulance.

At this moment he’s in a hospital, in pretty bad condition. Doctors say he has a serious head concussion. There are policemen guarding his hospital room day and night.

His mother had a minor heart attack when she learned the news.

via br23, a great, well-organized resource on Belarus.

Letter from jail

LJ user kurt_bielarus posts a translation of a letter, written by Valyantsina Palyavikova and Larysa Bukholenka, two women incarcerated for taking part in a pieceful protest. Translated by LJ user kapitan-tanaka.

They have confiscated absolutely everything. We have no toothpaste, no toothbrushes, no hygiene items. They have done everything to humiliate us as women. This was being done since the very first minutes of our arrest. Just imagine: in the dark, at 3 a.m., you are being surrounded by a hundred of black-dressed men – robocops, steel trucks everywhere, they force us into these trucks, many are simply dragged by their hair. Not everyone could stay strong in this situation, some girls burst into crying. When we asked, where they were taking us, the answer was – into the morgue or into the forest, to be raped and shot.

Silliest headline of this morning

Why Do Some Dictators Escape Justice?
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer

Why do I want to ask the opposite question?

Women in Minsk jail

I translated a paragraph from an account from here. Mind you, these were peaceful protesters, not "freedom fighters".

Constantly, slogans "Zhive Belarus" (long live Belarus) are heard. As far as we can tell, in this detention facility on Skoina Street there are about 70 women. Fortunately, we the adults, were with our girls and stopped them from being humiliated. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow (court!), and where they'll put us. But I'd like to hope that the worst humiliation is over: 3-hour standing out in the freezing cold, facing the wall, on Okrestina; brutally beating our men in front of us; not being told where we were being taken; undressing to our panties during personal inspection.

27 сакавіка 2006

Spirit of Belarus

Dasha Kostenko's diary

Dasha Kostenko's diary, translated by several volunteers, posted in LJ.

Another translation here.

Belarus: looks like a murder?

UPDATE: This story is most likely untrue: gugeins' LJ account was hacked, he says he didn't write this. Could have been somebody's dumb joke, could have been the KGB trying to scare people in the wake of the Chernobyl protest to happen in late April.

I will still keep this bit of translation up, because I think it could have been true. And to remind my readers, how difficult it is to get reliable information in Belarus.

This morning, I read this account by LJ user gugeins. Here's a translared bit:

In the morning on Sunday, at 7 o'clock, the phone rang. The parents weren't sleeping, because they knew where their son had gone and were very worried that he hadn't returned and wasn't answering his cell phone. The person calling introduced himself as an employee of the Minsk crematory, and in a very dry manner told them that they could pick up their son's ashes a week later.

An ambulanced was called for the mother. The father was trying to find out what had hapenned...The questions such as , "Who paid for the cremation?" and "From which morgue the body come?" have not been answered

I wonder if they will ever find out what happened to him. They won't talk to the press, or anyone else for that matter. They told gugeins about this only after he took an oath not to keep them out of this story.

Belarus: is there an opposition?

LJ user tugih writes in the community by_revolution:

I think, as a result of the recent events it's become obvious: in Belarus, there is no opposition, but there is a people. And to defeat the people is impossible.

26 сакавіка 2006

Blogroll addition

All Things Beautiful

I must have come across the name of this blog a hundred times, but I only discovered it now, thanks to Haliburton Oil, a commenter on BKP who kindly welcomed me to the comments section.

ATB rocks.

Belarus election fraud video

Bare knuckle politics has a video.

Here's my translation of what's being said - unfortunately, I can't here everything they are saying, so this is incomplete. I'm still looking for transriptions from people with better ears.

Chairman: Against everyone, against everyone, against everyone. Here, they were trying too hard and wrote on the backside. Trying too hard, trying too hard...It all goes to Lukashenko.

Man: - Why do you have Milinkevhich votes in Lukashenko's stack?
Official: Walk away from the table! Quiet!
Man: Stop it, woman!
Woman: You stop it, man! Don't address me like that - woman!
The last words heard on the video:
Man, quietly:
Half of them are for Milinkevich...

Hospital in Minsk: broken skulls, spines, bones

The regime in Belarus let its opponents have it.(RUS)

LJ user macsim-by has talked to personel at the Ambulance Hospital in Minsk. The dispatchers said that arount 4-5 pm people started to arrive. They are all blue, with red swallen areas on their bodies.

Three have spine injuries. One more has injured vertebrae, he can't feel his legs.

Six guys came in with suspected skull injuries. With three, one can tell without X-rays that their skulls are broken.

A lot of people came in with damaged ribs. Two girls, 18-20 yeats old, came in unconscious, probably with concussions. Their noses are broken, one has a broken rib.

Around 9 pm, people in black with "Milicia" (Police) written on their backs pulled up. They asked who was hospitalized, in what condition. One girl regain concsiousnes, and the doctors protested, saying she has a concussion and has to lie down. They broke into the room she was on, four of them took her and carried her to the street. There they put her in a silver colored car and took off.They also took two guys who were able to walk.

The hospital staff were shocked.

Moscow: police stop an anti-Lukashenko rally

According to Moscow police department, seven people were detained at a rally by the MID (Foreign Ministry) building.
Around 15 people gathered by the MID building on Smolensk Square, as well as about the same number of journalists. A minute after the rally participants put up their signs, the police dispersed the rally. The participants were going to protest against the arrests of opposition supporteres in Belarus.
Among those detained are Roman Dobrokhotov, the leader of the youth movement "Mi" ("We"), and members of the "Oborona" ("Defense") movement. The policemen who were present at the event said that the detained were being taken to the "Arbat" police station.

25 сакавіка 2006


A video here, from Ukrainan TV channel 5, with no comments.

Photos here, some quite didturbing. More here.

UPDATE: More photos from LJ user litota_ here


Lipski reports

4:45 pm The crackdown. In the area by the "Lukoil" ad, the special forces have started real people hunting. Cursing like crazy, going into the buildings' backyards, the SpezNaz dispersed, detained, and beat people. Kozulin got detained. An amromred MAZ truck pulled up.

3:31 pm There are only 3-4 thousand people left. A "hapun" (mass detention - IL) just started. A few people with flags got detained.

4:20 pm Under the brindge by the Moskovsky district admistration building, a few rows of OMON (special police) have blocked the way. The trafiic is blocked. People took to the driving lanes, but the OMON forced them out. They threw a gas grenade. People ran, a panic started. Some of them went uphill. The OMON blew another grenade, and a big gas cloud is going towards the hill. Most people move towards the railroad station. Two more grenade explosions, into the midst of the crowd, people ran away from there. In response, people throw snowblass at the OMON. The chat "Long live Belarus" and "Fascists". OMON has pushed people almost to the [Nezalezhnost? - IL] Square. Kozulin has come, walking towards the crowd, immediately surrounded by jjournalists. Witnesses say there are victims, people who got hit by the grenades. Another OMON bus pulled up. Kozulin has called to go back to the church on Nemiga street, said that there are wounded and even one killed. People chant "Fascists!"

4:01 PM Four special police buses are going in parallel with the column of demonstrators, the police wave their hands in response to "Police with the people" chants. The column crosses Nogin Square, walking on the sidewalki. There are still many people, a lot more than the 3,000 reported by Radio Svaboda.

They won't go home

Lipski reports:
Ten thousands people are walking towards Okrastina [where hundreds of arrested protesters are detained i IL]. People are carrying flags and baloons, chanting congratulations [todays is Belarus Independence day - IL], "Join Us". Cars are signaling to greet them... On one of the intesections, people yelled "Hail DPS" (road police). The road policemen were extatic. People are not dispersing, the number is still at 10,000.

Get better, sisters

LJ user marchcat_ posts in minsk_news LJ community: (RUS)
I just got through to my friend on the phone who has a sister and a niece [locked up at the detention center] on Okrestina Street. She took her niece, a 15-year old girl, who got beaten and has brain concussion. Her sister got beat up much worse, her face was all smashed.

People's wrath or another lie from the Russians?

Russian news agency Interfax says that a TV crew of the regime-owned BT channel got beaten by the protestors, who attacked them, and started kicking them and throwing snow over them and their equipment.

Saturday Begins

Today, thousands of Belarusian people are taking to the streets of Minsk to express their with the regime of Alexander Lukashenka.

More pictures

LJ user Lipski reports:
The number of people has stabilized around 15,000. On Kupala street there are 10 small police buses standing across the park. The police are sitting inside the buses. Small groups of 2-3 special police are standing by the protesters. Kozulin and Milinkevich take turns speaking, not saying much new: we demand freedom, we will win and so on. The PA system is really bad, half the people can't hear anything.

2:14 pm
The whole park is filled with people, they chant [in Belarusian and Russian] "Long live Belarus", "Together", "Shame", "Truth". Info came in that three busloads of people were taken to the detention center on Okrestina St.

2:04 pm
There are around 15,000 people. The speakers talk about the necessity of fair elections, cancelling the election's result and setting up a new one. People keep arriving.

I just came to Yanka Kupala Park. There are over 5,000 people. From the direction of Yakub Kolas Square there are over 5,000 approaching, and people are walking down the [Skaryna] avenue, so there are over 10,000 total.
An operator from the [regime-owned] BT channel just tried to come to the park, but people started throwing snowballs at him, and he quickly backed away. There are a lot of flags: white-red-white, anti-fascist resistance flag, of the youth movement "ZUBR" There are people of all ages, young people, a lot of middle-aged people. There are no police yet in the park, no special forces either. The cell phone connection is poor.

24 сакавіка 2006

Arrested protesters taken to Zhodino, start hunger strike

LJ user got a phone call from a girl who was among the protesters arrested last night. Some of them were taken to the town of Zhodino [about 50 milies from Minsk-IL] The detainees are treated badly, not beaten but humiliated. They were only given food once. In the next cell people have started a hunger strike.

Commenting on PubliusPundit

Publius has a good analysis of the situation in Belarus, and he is understandibly outraged
Lukashenko is going for utter brutality, trying to reinstill the fear that these protestors lost over the past few days. Milinkevich warned that persecution will only lead to further protests; a direct challenge. Lukashenko took it. Now we will see if the freedom fighters in Belarus are ready to fight for it for real. I hope we see it. They’ll need to do everything they can to spread the word and bring the people out. This is absolutely disgusting.

A commenter suggested that a change could come in 18 months at most.

Below is my comment.

This is only the beginning of real opposition in Belarus. Before this week, Belarusian opposition was inconsequential. People saw them as a bunch of bitter losers - and for good reasons.

Even now, the biggest problem is leadership. If I were to finance opposition, there would be nobody that I would feel comfortable giving money to. I have more respect for Milinkevich than before, because he seems decent and rational, but it's not clear if he's up to the job of leading a mass movement. That job will require tremendous will, courage and determination, as well as outstanding organizational talent. Being good is not good enough for that job.

I think 18 months is a very, very optimistic estimate for regime change.

True Belarusians don't give up

LJ user la_hexe reports
We just came from [the detention center on] Okrestina St.
When the guys were being taken to courts, they wrote on the window glass: "ПЛОЩАДЬ ЕСТЬ?" (Is the square there?)


A little old lady (I hope she forgives me for calling her that) said: "the parents and relatives of these kids didn't care, and now they are the enemies of the regime. With each hour, the regime makes new enemies. It will soon suffocate!"

What does the crackdown mean?

LJ user lipski writes his opinion on the tent camp crackdown.
Putting emotion aside, everybody won from the crackdown on the October Square.
1. Lukashenka has calmed his nerves and demonstrated his control over the situation
2. Milinkevich has got rid of the pain that the unplanned "maidan" represented.
3. The opposition has saved the face, because the authorities didn't let the "maidan" to completely turn into a farce, and besides, the opposition can accuse the regime in a violent crackdown
4. The camp's defenders will finally rest from overnight standing and freezing
5. The West got additional reasons to accuse the Belarusian government in anti-democratism and introduce sanctions
6. Minksans have returned to their regular lifestype, and nothing bothers their calm
Did I forget anything?

I'm pretty sure that if I were still living in Minsk, I would be bitter. The opposition has demonstrated its immaturity. There will be no change in the near future. If anything, the regime will get more violents. Sanctions won't make anybody's life better.

Speaking of sanctions, I think isolation would be the worst thing right now for Belarus. Ban on officials' travel is unimportant, it doesn't change much. But if the few Western companies doing business in Belarus are forced to leave, it will make things worse for ordinary Belarusians, especially those who want change, because they are more likely to be involved with such firms as customers, employees, suppliers, or partners.

If anything, the West should engage Belarus as much as possible. Isolation would make Belarus more like North Korea.

NYT article

Neeka quotes a NYT account of the crackdown, written in a professional, indifferent tone.

For a few minutes, as the police awaited the final command, the demonstrators' loudspeaker worked, and one of their leaders ordered the protesters to sit down and hold hands before the police moved in.

They chanted, shouting "The police are with the people!" and "Truth! Truth! Truth!" but offered no resistance visible to journalists, who were ordered by the police to stand about 50 yards away.


Mr. Lukashenko's main challenger, Aleksandr Milinkevich, was not in the camp as the police advanced. He denounced the action after visiting the detention center where the demonstrators were taken.

"This authoritarian government has once again shown its beastly face," he said in a telephone interview. "It has never been able to maintain a dialogue with the society. It knows only the language of violence and lies, and this is why its power is bankrupt."

He said he had no reports of beatings or injuries during the arrests, but added, "I do not know what is going on in the jail."

Well, now we know.

They haven't killed us yet. We are not panicking

Radio Svaboda's correspondent quotes an arrested girl, Taciana Snitko, as transcribed by LJ user alteaenerle (RUS)
We didn't resist the crackdown. First we sat on the ground chanting "Police with the people," then we stopped chanting. We just silently held each other's hands. We weren't afraid, because we were anticipating this.

Now we are being taken by a truck outside the city. Through a tony window we can see something and figure out where we're being taken. Somebody said Cimiriazeva street, then Arlowskaya. Looks like we've left the city already.

Some guys got beaten up. They have blood on their faces. In our truck, girls didn't get beaten.

They haven't shot us down yet. We are not panicking.

Hang on, brothers

LJ user kurt-belarus writes this in LJ (BEL)

Hang on, rodniya
[rodniya is how you address family members in Belarusian [IL]

This is only the beginning.
The spring is coming!
Luka's plan - "it will just die down" - did not work.

Thus, tonight's crackdown is our first little victory.

Let each one of us become a news agency for our houses and apartment buildings - talk to people, make and distribute your own leaflets, counter the state lies. There are no other news sources of true information.
//Please, no calls to riots

See you on the 25th!


This is being distributed in Minsk right now.

Over 460 people are arrested
There is a word SOLIDARITY. Even if you don't completely agree with their goals and methods, but when people you know suffer, it's your duty to help them. This is not a matter of political views, it's a matter of concience. We're in trouble, so let's forget our disagreements.

Being arrested is hard for anyone. To give the minimal help from outside is the most important thing you can do.

Courts' and police stations' numbers and addresses are given in the leaflet.

More leaflets through here

She is no hero

LJ user irinamay, who was on the square some of these days, posts last days' summary.

I'm no hero, that's number one. Never thought of myself as one. I've decided to go as far as my timid soul will allow me. I was there on the 19th and 20th. Brought coffee on the 21st. But then I ended up without a passport, so I was afraid to go. More than anything my relatives were trying to scare me: saying "you're not thinking about us", and then "we can't talk over the phone about it"...
I gave three interviews, but they were all to Swedish channels. And this morning, a Swedish journalist called me, telling they cracked down on the tents, and asking me to post on the Internet.
I hope people come out tomorrow. This is not the end, this is the beginning.

Second . The conclusion I've made is this: the most powerful method then as well as now is to talk to people. The kind of people like the man I talked to yesterday, who said: I'm for myself only; the people for whom it's important to be able to support themselves and their families, to make normal money, not the kind of money that's left after paying the taxes. The kind of people, who've had enough of "the stable bad life," but don't know what to do.
We need more facts, because now it's their words verus ours. And besides words, they have pictures on TV, they have decrees and all kinds of prohibitions.

Third. One of the reasons this was happened the way it did (the turnout, the tents) was because of the Internet and cell phones. This can't be reversed, and there was no such thing in 2001. Hurray to technology, and hail all those who have endured all these days.

Regime shows its true face

Reuters puts up an article, elegantly finishing it with a phrase about Lukashenka's genuine popularity the 10 million Belarussians for having ensured relative political and economic stability.

LJ user inff writes: The regime-run Belarusian TV reports vodka bottles, syrenges, and porno magazines left after the protesters.

Radio Svaboda reports approving reactions of Minsk residents (BEL)

Man: Those kids are punks. They light up their cigarettes from the memorial fire for war heroes. My son was there, he told me
Another man: I'd give them all prison sentenses
Woman: It's good what [the police] did
Man: Maybe it's right that they took them. If it wasn't sanctioned, why do it when nobody's asking you?
Woman: The police did the right thing, those people should know better than make a mess. They took out tons of trash after them. They should have gone to work instead of protesting, and prove their opinion by working, not by lazing and littering
Man: It's really bad that they broke it up. And nothing's gonna happen with our people - or rather, the electorate, the Lukashits.

Photos on Svaboda.org

23 сакавіка 2006

Milinkevich to go underground

The German media outlet DW-WORLD (RUS)

Milinkevich admits that Belarusian opposition media and advocacy groups are sponsored by the West: since in Belarus, "all the financial channels that fund the development of civil society have been blocked by the government, let the democracy supporters get help from the West"

He also said that the action on March, 25th will be the last one, after which he'll go underground.

Toilet Politics

LJ user brrman writes:
20 minutes ago, a vehicle pulled up to the square. A man with a box jumped out of the car and ran towards the protestors. A herd of special police ran following him, and tried to grab him. The people didn't let the man down. They pulled the policemen away from him and took the porto-potties to the tents. 20 or 20 minutes later, an ambulance pulled up. Upd: and then left

mirritil adds that the man who brought the toilets got hit very hard over the head

Car with American Embassy Numbers Takes Away Activist

Interfax has this news(RUS):

A car with diplomatic title numbers stopped by the protesters. A person, who accrording to Interfax was an opposition activist Viqcheslav Sivchik, surrounded by a dense crowd,
walked to the car which then took off. After verifying the title number, the GAI (the road police) told Interfax that the car belonged to the American embassy.

Belarus: protesters announce demands

Via Radio Svaboda
The protesters have announced their demands. They include:
1. a new presidential election,
2. forming a new election committee representing all political forces in Belarus,
3. release of those arrested for participating in the protest
4. bringing to justice those who faked the election
The protesters say they will leave only after all their demands have been met

Past vs Future

Minsk, Kalinouski (forbmer October) Square:
Angry babushka talks to protesters.

22 сакавіка 2006

Rushian Mushroom

Russhian Mushroom
Originally uploaded by ivanlenin.
By Igor Didenko

The story

Provocations in Belarus

Ravdio Svaboda
March 23, 3:30 AM

Provocations continue. Drunk people keep approaching the tent camp, and there is a constant stream of strange acting people harrasing the protesters.

Periodically, Belarusian TV channels' crews arrive. A few minutes ago a group of people introduced themselves as a BT channel crew... The camp's residents refused contact with them...


In the last few hours, 6 drunk provocateurs came up to the tent camp...Only one oftem was detained...

When a pssing car honks in solidarity with the protesters, the traffic police write down the car's number, and the gar gets stopped by officers at the nexh post.

Belarus update

An apolitical person's reasons for joining the protest.

March 23, 12:03 AM, LJ user lefj
Finally, porto-potties have arrived. update apparently, that was evil disinformation, lefj says. People are still using buckets of sorts.

Ukraine shows solidarity via LJ user samuel-smith

Radio Svaboda (BEL)
10 PM

Now on the square there are around 3,000 people. More info about people being detained as they approach the square. Four people with tents and sleeping backs were detained a few minutes ago. However, despite the police blocks, today a few new tents have been set up.
Today, there is no more talk about taking down the tents. The particiapnts are prepared to stay till the end.

pics from the square from LJ user eugene-grabkin

LJ user lipski:
9:33 pm
Despite the ongoing arrests, people keep bringing food and hot liquid to the tents. There are a lot of such people.

8:35 pm
The tent camp's leaders have forbidden to let the crew from BT (regime-controlled channel) to the tents
[I can't say I approve of that - IL]

8:29 pm
Milinkevich says that talks have started with Europeans to help those who've been repressed for participating in the protests. On March 30th in Warsaw, presidents of Europe's biggest universities will meet to discuss accepting Belarusian students who got kicked out. The EU will expand the list of Belarusian officials who are banned from travelling in Europe, including education officials who expel students for political reasons.
Mi has called on people to take to the streets on March 25th. The meeting got rescheduled from evening to noon.
The weather is so-so. It's a bit warmer than last night, but it's very humid.

8:03 Milinkevich arrived. The meeting has started. He's talking about the internation community not recognizing the election's results and possible sanctions.
A car with food, tents and sleeping bags has been detained.

7:24 pm The meeting still hasn't started. Somebody read a poem about the tent camp defenders. There are a bit over 2,000 people. The passing cars are honking in solidarity, even though the police started giving fines for that.

6:53 By the tents, a drunken man has just tried to start a fight. He was telling people to get out from the square, saying that the police will throw everybody out tomorrow.

Info on arrests

Kozulin has given up, Milinkevich is reported sick with pneumonia. The protesters self-organize and take the initiative.

Minsk, March 22

Radio Svoboda: People get beaten as they leave the square to change

Now in German! Modus Vivendi is translating Belarusian blogs into German.


12:30, Radio Svaboda
Arount 1,000 people have decided to stay overnight in the tents. Despite the call for "only real men" to stay, in the 20 or so tents there are girls as well as guys, and also people of olders age. Among them is Milinkevich, his wife Ina Kuley, and elder son Aliaxander.

The protestors realize that tonight, the police can use force to end the protest. The street lights are off. There a TV team from the regime-owned chaneel BT, getting ready to shoot something. The passing cars honk to express their solidarity.

A member of the Polich Parliament (Seim) Yaroslau Yaheila has been detained, and as a result of an agreement between the Polish embassy in Minsk and the Foregn Ministry of Belarus, was let go under condition that he immediately leave Belarus. Mr.Yaheila is on his way to Poland.

UPDATE: a good comment by anonimous re: my post about opposition split: there is no split, kozulin's supporters are on the square. [respect! - IL]

12:51 am LJ user astel tells of jail sentenses (10 days) for two girls, Taciana Homa and Olga Kuzmich.
IL - I come across such reports quite often. Somebody got detained, somebody has disappeared and not answering the phone. It looks like the Lu team is trying to sow panic in the ranks of protesters. There are all kinds of rumors circulating, such as the rumor of free vodka planted by KGB to provoke the protestors.

12:30 am, LJ user Lipski
There are over 1,000 people at the square, listening to music and to Radio Svaboda. It's very cold out, the weather report predicts -15C (5F). The lights at the square are off. Just got an info that two people got detained by the McDonalds.

Day three: photos

Opposition split reported Milinkevish is staying with the people at the October Square

Minsk, 11:06 PM
LJ user Lipski:
Everything is calm so far. The police are not taking any actiont. There is a concert of rock band NRM going on. People are dancing and not leaving despite the cold.

Post on belarus.indimedia.org via LJ User alteaenerle:
Kozulin has declared the tent camp to be over and called on his supporteres to leave the square. However, the protesters have decided not to leave the square. All the
access to the square is blocked. The police are not letting people in, saying there is an event going on and "arrangements are being made" (проходит мероприятие)
It also became known that when Kozulin found out that Milinkevich is not leaving, Kozulin has declared their coalition to be over. The protest organizers have just asked the women to leave the square. So it looks like there really is going to be a zachistka (cleaning up)

Latest news from Minsk (in Belarusian and Russian)

People, not sheep
via Neeka

Opposition leaders jailed: Anatol Liabedzka - 15 days sentense. Aliaxey Yanukevich - 12 days.

LJ Users alexnovik and irinamai write about a column of about a dozen OMON (special police) buses and trucks approaching the area.

Conversations held at the square

If you know people in Belarus, please send them this link (RUS, BEL) It's about keeping the resistance movement going.

The night of March 20/21

videos from fox

March 20 II

March 20 I

This post will stay up for a while, and I will keep updating it.

Summing up - by LJ user Lipski

To sum up the last four days' events, I'd like to say the following.

The Belarusian Maidan [Maidan means 'square' in Ukranian, referring to the Orange revolution - IL] has not won, but failed. From the very beginning, March the 19th. Yes, some people have got rid of fear. Yes, there was mass action that Minsk hasn't seen in a long while. Yes, it hasn't been suppressed. BUT. It wasn't supressed not because anyone is afraid of EU sanctions, but because there wasn't a need to supress it. Such development demonstrates the weakness of the opposition and plays into the regime's hand. "Maidan" as it is right now, is good for the official TV's picture. It's turned into an instrument of the regime's propaganda, not the opposition's campaign. "Maidan" is happening not because of its defenders' heroism (no irony here), but thatnks to the goodwill of the regime. The tent camp could be taken out tonight, nicely and quietly, when there are 200 people in there, just like they took out the first tent on the square. And I'm almost positive that that wouldn't cause an explosion of protests or international sanctions.

As four days have passed, we see no political dynamics. The protests are dying down. With each day, there are fewer and fewer people. On monday, there were 7-8 thousands, yesterday - 3,500 to 4,000, and today - around three. The same tendency as in fall 2004. There is no plan, no action, no palpable goals, no organization. The situation can only be rescued by a mass action on March 25th, but it doesn't look like it's being seriously prepared.

In my view, it's wrong to identify the events in Minsk with Maida, as many people do. A better analogy would be "Ukraine without Kuchma", which didn't succeed, but became a foundation for the Orange revolution. After the "Minsk maidan", what has to follow is organizational work, if the opposition wants to accomplish something, and is psychologically prepared to take power into its hands and to take charge.

P.S. Since right now events are developing in a rather predictable way, I've decided to stop reporting until March 24th. I have to get some work done. With all this work, I've neglected all my drinking revolution, I've neglected all my work :-)

Lenin's comment: I know Lipski's article may sound pessimistic to some, but I see it as forward looking and hopeful. It looks like these people are capable of not only protesting and taking risks, they are willing to work for their dignity and their future. The chances of victory for the Belarusian revolution are slim to none this time around, but the thing is, the revolution HAS started, and I think there are a whole lot of lessons to learn from this, both in Belarus and in the West.

Apolitical person says

this is from LJ user red-house, in reply to a sceptical post in LJ. (Russian original)

Miss, I'm also an apolitical person. I didn't even vote this time around: too much work. By my age of 32, I have abandoned the notion of anarchy. In anarchy, hospitals will infect kids with AIDS, and diary products will be full of chlamidia, if the young workers after a night in the dorm on Soltys Street don't disinfect their hands. In other words, I am for order. Order in the state, and order in people's heads. But this is not what I'm talking about.
You're asking: what's the goal of this demonstration? And you got a very correct answer, in my opinion. "The main goal is to make the Constitution work in the country. And to not let authorities treat people like a herd of animals."
Is that not an answer? The campaign's execution, the leadership, and how much you like it - all that is secondary. The goal is to call on the government to obey the law. It's really important for the Constitution to work in the country. To many people, it's important that if Lukashenka got not 82%, but 60% (let's say that was the real number), then they should say he got 60%. Because when they add 22%, many people get upset, they feel they are treated like livestock. Because, if the authorities see that they get away with playing dirty and people don't mind, they will go a step further.
You may say the Constitution is not important. But look at such a trivial for Belarusian matter as to get a stamp in the passport to visit other countries. The illegetimacy of such procedure, and charging money for it, was admitted by the Constitutional Court way back in 2002. But for "technical reasons" the procedure is still in place. The Constitution backed down. And the citizens keep paying for their stamps.
No big deal, of course. Also "no big deal" is being forced to work for the government as a payback for your higher education - despite forced labor being unconstitutional in Belarus. What's next? Ban on travel for collective farm workers? [Soviet practice from 50 years ago - IL] Mandatory employment? Security forces breaking into the movie theater to check your permission to be in the theater? Funny, huh? But it was happening quite recently in the 80s, when Lukashenka was deputy head of a collective farm, and I was going to school, and you weren't born yet.
By the way, I went to school #24, right behind the WWII museum, right across the cozy garden where grapes and nuts used to grow, and which is now is covered with concrete. Right on that spot, I was made a Young Pioneer. Right now, on that spot, people get arrested for carrying a bag of chips. But if everything that's going is just child play, why then the serious grown up men take away food and medicine from these children, and then the children go to jail? It doesn't look like child play at all.
The current resistance is a note of protest. A revolution probably won't happen. But there is a hope that the authorities will remember the tents on the square, next time they consider making an unconstitutional desicion.

Arrested people

The list of those arrested (91 people) and sentensed (66 people) is here (BEL)

Pictures of activists who went to the detention facility on Okrestina Street to get information about those arrested are here (via LJ user loud_minsk)

Conversation with daughter

By LJ user lipkovich
- No we'll show you the revolution. Now wel'' turn onto Soviet Street...
- Why is there no revolution on Soviet St?
- Just wait. On Soviet Street, too, there will be a revolution. Now, get up on daddy's lap.
- Then close the window!
- You won't see then...
- What are those men doing?
- Those man are searching people.
- Why?
- Well, they don't like it if somebody brings something forbidden.
- Why?
- Now look. It's starting. See the flags?
- Yes. Why is nobody shooting?
- That's very good that nobody is shooting, or else somebody could get killed.
- What's that talking in the men's coat?
- A radio.
- Now the revolution is over.
- Did you like it?
- Yes. It's cold. Close the window
That's how Mirka and I went to see the revolution today


This come from LJ user kiryla, who just came from Kalinouski Square, formerly known as October Sq ;)

Original in Russian

To stop political repressions against Belarusians. To show solidarity in non-violent struggle against the ruling dictatorial regime. To remove citizen Lukashenko from the office of Head of State, which he has unlawfully usurped.

We demand release of political prisoners and people imprisoned for their views.

Address: [translation incomplete - sorry, I have to go to bed - IL]
Calling on police and army officers to stop obeying Lukashenka's orders.
On citizens to join the protestors on the square
On people from neighboring countries to join also
On the international community to demand the authorities to stop the arrests and trials of the peaceful protesters. When the demonstrators approach or leave the square, they get arrested. Last night, anywhere between 10 and 30 people have been arrested. Official information on the arrests is not available, so it takes a long time to get the numbers.
On the international media to keep the events in Belarus in focus

The document also discusses the tactics of the movement.

21 сакавіка 2006

Opposition split (correction: not quite)

Kozulin's press secretary Nina Shidlouskaya: Before the meeting started, Kozulin and Milinkevich discussed how to preserve the spirit shown by Belarusians. And they had agreed on a number of things, including the initiative coming from Milinkevich's team, to ask people to leave today"
via LJ user wolny

My comment: as I pointed before, the opposition's weak spot is their leadership. As one protester said, they look like they don't need the power. Kozulin from the start seemed like a careerist (he used to be head of the Belarusian Sate University, a post that a decent person is unlikely to hold even before Lukashenka) Most of the opposition's long-time leadership, "full-time oppositioners", as I call them, are so used to being in opposition, they can hardly see themselves in power. They seem to have very little idea what to do with the power once they take it. They have little idea what it's like to be responsible for the whole country.

Says LJ user anysyst (in Russian)

For our opposition leaders, revolution is like playing heads and tails:
- if it's a head and people come out, then you can hang out with them and "revolutionize"
- if it's a tail and nobody comes, well that's OK, the authorities have scared the people, and you can ask the West for aid
- if the coin lends on its edge and there is really a lot of people coming out, then who knows, maybe the police will join the people, and who knows, maybe, then revolution has a chance of succeeding.

A true revolutionary never aims at "preserving the spirit": he will try to steer the flame and grow the movement. Milinkevich has got a wonderful opportunity to create a change, thanks to the courage of the thousands Belarusians who braved the very real threats from Luka and the cold; the tens of thousands of people who overcame fear, despair, and cynicism. It will be a shame if he and his team blow this opportunity, by disgracing himself the way Kozulin just did.

UPDATE: a good comment by anonimous:
there is no split, kozulin's supporters are on the square. [respect! - IL]

Conversations from the Oktiabrskaya Square

From an article on Radio Svaboda site.

Corr: What was most difficult about last night?
Young man: The hardest thing was to stand: it's just my legs hurt. And frankly, it was cold towards the morning. But people are really helping - bringing food, hot tea and coffee all the time, giving cigarettes. Everybody is supportive, everybody. The only thing is it's hard on the legs, but that's all. Everything else is fine.

When the night was over, there were 300-500 people standing at the square. Not only teenagers, as the official propaganda claims. Taciana Hacura is a mother of three small children, and she says that she came out here first of all because of them.

Hacura: "I must be able to look my kids in the eye without shame. I come here so that I won't feel ashamed in the future. So that I will feel free and understand, what I was doing it for. I'm not so much here because of some political slogans, I'm just doing it for my children and for myself, for moral comfort.

Even people who are older have ignored the danger, saying they are tired of being afraid.
Woman:The people are scared, there is a lot of some kind of slave mentality. Because they [the authorities] try to scare people at every step. People are afraid to get crushed, humiliated, afraid that the police will break their bones and throw them in jail. There've been so many warnings: don't go to the square, there's going to be a violence! They will definitely resort to violence, after all the guests are gone. They will wait and then start the beating, as usual.

20 сакавіка 2006

Cars, brothers, and comrades

Cool! Let the Germans pay taxes to Egyptians, so we can stop giving money to Egypt!


Ford, which plans massive cuts in jobs and production capacity in North America this year, posted record sales increases

I like this:

A spokesman for Ford China and a PR officer at the China unit of Volvo AB's (VOLVY), which is Ford's wholly owned unit, both declined to comment.

The middle class in China is rising. Will they be our friends in 20 or 50 years? Stay tuned.

Grand America

A just had a thought, not much related to Belarus - it's about America.

In the John Waters documentary, his long-time associate Pat Moran, when talking about censorship, says that America sets itself up as grand and free. (I don't remember the exact words, but I remember distinctly the word 'grand')

I think that a lot of Americans do idealize their country, seeing it as almost God's kingdom. The natural reaction to that is idealizing it in the opposite way: demonizing it, and seeing it as the source of all evil in the world.

It seems to me that such aggrandizement, whether positive or negatice, happens beacase many Americans, living in fairly isolated communities, and very much separated from the rest of the world, often lack the sense of perspective. Whether they praise or criticize their country, they are rarely able to compare it to others in a specific and meaningful way.

I believe the Web is slowly changing that. Just by translating the bloggers in Belarus I can tell that Americans do want to know what's going on. It's indeed encouraging.

Reply to Dean Esmay

Mary Madigan of Exit Zero kindly linked to my post on her blog and also on Dean's world. Dean Esmay commented on my post, but because of his blog's restrictions, I couldn't reply there to his comment, so I'll do it here.

Dean says,

It probably seems very idealistic of me to say so, but I genuinely believe this, intellectually and scientifically as well as morally and ethically and sentimentally:

Free elections that express the will of the people first. We must have that first. The rest will sort itself out in time.

I genuinely believe that with every fibre of my being.

...and by "express the will of the people" I do not mean that "the people" have some great overwhelming consensus among them on all things. No, that is not the purpose of elections.

Free elections are but the first step: "We choose this person over that person to lead us."

Elections are never about giving people everything they want. Elections, true free elections, are about giving the people their voice in sorting out the chaotic mess that is the normal state of human existance.

They must first and foremost have the power to say "you shall lead us" and "you shall not."

From there it is often painful and frustrating. But it must start there. All else is merely rhetoric.

Free elections that express the will of the people first

I doubt that you can have truly free elections in a country such as Belarus. Actually, I don't think there is such a thing as absolutely free elections. Big players will always intimidate the small fish. They will always have more control over the media and the election process.

What needs to come first is candidates who, despite the elections being only half-free (or worse), are capable of generating mass support, and leading their supporters to victory. Yushchenko has done that, so in that sense I agree with both Dean and Glenn Reynolds.

Because Lukashenka has consolidated his power in a way that Kuchma could only dream of, there can be no Yushchenko in Belarus. I guess I should have called my post Why Belarus won't go the way of Ukraine, not Why I don't want it to go that way. I don't want Belarus to plunge into chaos, and in the absence of a broad enough support for a regime change, such a change will most likely lead just to that. Yushchenko had all kinds of support from the elites as well as ordinary Ukranians. It's just not the case in Belarus.

As Dean says, true free elections are not about giving people everything they want. By the same token, in our situations elections can't be truly free. That doesn't mean Belarusians will never get there. But it will take more effort from more Belarusians to get there. Whatever foreign policy everybody else pursues, the people of Belarus are the ones responsible for what happens.

As for democracy, my stand is simple. To me, democracy is not an absolute valuse, such as freedom and liberty: it's just a way of achieving consensus in a society. People must be willing and able to achieve that - and my hope is that it will happen soon in Belarus.

The night of March 20/21

Translating from LJ community minsk_news

LJ user lipskiTo warm up, we're having a running competition, Russia vs Belarus. The mood is good :) Just a little is left until the morning.

LJ user samuel_smith interviews the superintenndant of the tent camp, Ales Mazur.

samuel_smith: Hi, we're calling from Ukraine. We support you and are watching what's going on. Tell us what is happening over there, how the authorities are behaving, how many people are at the square

Ales': there are perhaps slightly over a thousand people. Milinkevich is with us, we have around 20-30 tents put up on the square. The police are not seen, they disappeared around 1am, only traffic police are here. We're in a good mood, the city will lively up in an hour and a half, and everything will be all right.

samuel_smith: Is the square open? Can people come join you?
Ales': No, they are filtering people out. They just stop people and don't let them get through. But I believe, at 7 they will clear the way.

* * *

Photos from Hartia97. I really respect these people. Spending the night out in the cold, not knowing if you'll be arrested or beaten or both, does take some balls. This is not your Grandma Cindy's "pease" protest.

* * *

3:38 AM, Hitroe Radio, via LJ user samuel_smith
The police officers will support Lukashenka all the way to the end. The possibility that ordinary officers will switch sides is out of the question. We were talking to them for 2 hours without raising our voices, and there is no chance that they will switch sides. If they had an order, they would kill. On the 19th they were put on high alert five times, they were angry and ready to attack, but the alerts were cancelled. Today they are even more ready, but...There are very few people left on the square, 1,000 at most. People say Kozulin has already left, and I don't know about Milinkevich.

2:11 AM, Radio Svaboda via LJ user barilotti:
The police have detain Anatol Liabedzka and Aliaxander Dabravolsky [well-known oppositioners - IL]. Together with Valiancina Pelevikava and Ludmila Hraznova, at 1 am they went to get tea, in the direction of GUM.
Valiancina Palevikava said that on their way back, Liabedzka and Dabravolski were taken by the police. They were thrown into a bus and taken to the police station. Palevikava and Hraznova were not arrested, but the police didn't let them get back to the square.

The square is blocked. New people can't get here, because the police have blocked the nearby streets.

LJ user lipkski:
Mar. 21st, 1:54 AM
Now at the square Kozulin (the other opposition candidate) appeared. It's said that he was able to persuade the police to free the people who were detained for trying to bring food to the demonstrators.

Mar. 21st, 2006 @ 01:54 am
There are around 1,00o people at the square. They are concentrated in two groups. One is at the steps of Profsoyuz Palace, watching the PA equipment. The other groupo is standing around the tents. There are around 25 flags over the crowd. The public transportation has already stopped [in Minsk and most post-Soviet cities 1 am is the standard time for this - IL]. I predict that the same number of people will stay overnight. I keep being told that those who leave the square one by one get arrested.

Minsk, March 21, 1:18 AM
They are starting to surround us. At the square, around a thousand people are remaining. The police are saying that they recieved an order to clear the square from the protestors

12:03 AM
There are areond 2,000 people at the square. Heard through the PA, Radio Svaboda started their translation.


This one is worrisome. Also via LJ user lipski.

Minsk, 9:50 PM
The protesters have set four tents and surrounded them. Around 4,000 people have stayed at the square. Somebody from Russia is speaking, I think from SPS (Union of Right Forces). Milinkevich has called on people to stay for the night and for tomorrow. There is a rumor that in half an hour the demonstators will be harshly

Minsk, 10:35 PM
The people keep standing on the Oktyabrskaya Sq, numbering around 4,000. The mood is elevated, people are enthusiastic.
The leaders speaking at the meeting urge people to stay overnight. A representative from the city of Mogilev says that delegations from Belarusian regiouns are expected to arrive in Minsk.
The speakers have also asked Minsk residents to bring warm clothes, food, and hot tea and coffee to the tents.
A few minutes ago a young girl(!) climbed the lighting pole by the Profsoyuz Palace, and put a big white-red-white flag on it.

Hope in Minsk

Live translation of live blogging

I am translating LiveJournal user lipski

9:06 PM
The meeting continues. Speakers include opposition members, famous writers and musicions. People keep coming and going, but there are always 5 to 6 thousands people remaining. I can see some Georgian flags.

7:35 PM
Those gathered at the square have accepted a resolution of the Popular Assembly, that calls yesterday's election a coup, for which Lu and Lidia Yermoshina (head of the Election Commission) are responsible. The resolution demands to cancel the election's results, and to reappoint different election commission members.

7:21 PM
There are around 6-7 thousands of people, and looks like there won't be many more. Somebody just tried to put a tent on the skating ring ice. Two cops came and took the tent. Nobody even tried to resist.

According to the LiveJournal user max-kanevsky, the administration of the Belarusian State University has informed the students, that if they are found on the square instead of being in class, they will be expelled from the University

7:16 PM
Finally, they have found normal amplifiers. I'm at the opposite side of the crowd, and can hear everything. People keep coming!

7:03 pm
Over 5,000 people. A part of them are on the opposite site of the square, by the Officers' Palace. There are two big posters, "Motherland for Milinkevich", and "For freedom". People are chanting, Down with Luka the Ugly.

meanwhile, LJ user wolny reports:
According to a Belarusian Partisan correspondent, some military vehicles are coming to the nearby Karl Marx Street [yep, Karl Marx is well and kicking in Minsk - IL]. Who or what is inside the trucks is still unclear. They are coming to the same spot where they were located last night. Howeverm there are more and more of them. Meanwhile, the cars driving by are honking to show solidarity with the protestors

Oktyabrskaya Sq, 6, Mar 20

6:50 PM I can see 24 flags, Belarusian, flags of the city of Minsk, of the youth movenet "Zubr", EU. The people are chanting, Long live Belarus, Shame. The leaders are not seen yet. The number of people is around 4,000. There are many-many journalists. On one of the columns of the palace, somebody's hung an icon.

6:47 pm
The people are chanting, 'Long live Belarus', 'Shame' Three meters away from me are all the members of NRM [the legendary Belarusian rock band - IL], in overcoats and warm hats. Can't see many police. From time to time they will walk in small groups of two-three people.

6:42 PM
I see around ten flags. Belarusian, Ukranian, EU. People are standing on the Profsoyuz Palace stairs. Looks like they're waiting for the speakers. Something is
going on inside, the lights are lit, and some people are gathering. The skating ring is well done - you can skate.

Misnk, Oktyabrskaya Sq, 6, Mar 20, 6:35 PM
Info just came in that the authorities confiscated 1,500 tents. Some suggest bringing in our own. Now there are about 2,000 people, coming to the Profsoyuz Palace. The meeting will probably start there. Moving in that direction.

Misnk, Oktyabrskaya Sq, Mar. 20, 6:26 PM
Two more flags have been raised - one white-red-white, and one of EU. The number of people is arount 1,500. I've talked to some opposition party members - sounds like the tents are cancelled.

Misnk, Oktyabrskaya Sq, Mar. 20, 6:20 PM
I'm at the square. The weather is good, the temperature's around zero (32F). There is a hundred people on the square. Most of them are waiting for buses. The skating ring is covered with ice, and a few people are skating. On the flagpole is a red-green flag [the official flag of Belarus, a Soviet legacy - IL]. The square is open.

UPDATE: Welcome Protein Wisdom readers! For the night of March 20/21, please click here.

Why I don't want Belarus to go the way of Ukraine

Sayeth InstaPundit:

I'd like to see Belarus go the way of Ukraine. Lukashenko -- and Putin -- feel differently.

I guess, it all depends on what we mean by the way of Ukraine, huh?

The example of Ukraine and her Orange Revolution is inspiring in a number of ways. Most importantly, it signifies the rebirth of the Ukranian nation, of the people who said: we are not a herd of sheep, we are a people. Our freedom is more important to us than the prices for Russian gas, and we won't let the Kremlin and their puppets run our country.

That's great, but many Orange supporteres ignore the downside of that "revolution." It brought to power politicians who are about just as corrupt as their pro-Russian opponents. The Western political and financial support made the Orange government seem like Western puppets to many Ukranians. And, worst of all, the "revolution" devided the country: in fact, it looks like the biggest divide since WWII. While people like me are proud of the Ukranians for taking charge of their future, that future still looks very uncertain and worrisome.

The situation in Belarus is quite different. First, the anti-Russian sentiment is not nearly as strong, which is both good and bad. It's bad in a sense that many Belarusians lack national self-identity: they speak Russian (or the awful mixture of Russian and Belarusian called trasianka), and they keep the Empire alive in their hearts. On the other hand, this lack of anti-Russian sentiment is good because a national idea based on hatred towards another nation will always be a source of conflict. The current division of Ukraine is an example of that - many people, especially in Eastern Ukraine, identify with Russia more than they do with Ukraine, and they are angry.

What I'd like to see in my home country is a regime change that is based on broad national support. Right now, Lukashenka enjoys the support of one half of the country, perhaps a little less, but possibly a bit more than a half. If (and that's a huge if) the regime changes now, the new leaders will be in a most difficult situation, because a lot of poor people, most of whom depend on the state for their salaries, will see the new government as illegitimate. Controlling the KGB and other security forces, full of Lukashenka supporteres, would be a nighmare. Dealing with the regime's crimes is another issue that the opposition is poorly prepared for. Finally, Milinkevich & Co have very little idea hot to run the economy. For example, they advocate lowering taxes, but don't explain how they would pay all the state employees from a diminished budget.

The Western support for democratic movements, in its current form, is a double-edged sword, and it's not clear which edge cuts more. It seems like the West is willing to give money to opposition, but it's not able to make sure that those moneys work. To me, one thing is clear: as long as the biggest strength of a political force lies in Western money, such force will do more bad than good. All that Western money, in my opinion, could be spent better, which I will discuss in a separate post.

One way or another, what we're seeing in Belarus is a good thing. Those Belarusians who want freedom now see that their numbers are big and growing, and they are getting more and more organized. Their day is probably not today, but it is indeed coming.

UPDATEWelcome, fellow Insta-comrades! Thanks for your interest in Belarus and her freedom. And thanks to Mr. Reynolds for the linking. I hope y'all enjoy your visit here. Жыве Беларусь!

Commenting on Guardian

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH at Guardian online asks:
A key question now (Monday midday) is: will they turn out again tonight, as opposition leaders have called for? In larger numbers or smaller? And will the KGB (still so called in Belarus) treat the protesters as "terrorists", as its boss has threatened? (via InstaPundit)

Below is my comment.

As a Belarusian emigrant to the US, I naturally have no sympathy for Lukashenka and his regime. To answer Timothy's questions: there is a small chance that as many or more people will show up tonigght compared to last night. There is a higher chance that violence will be used against them.

As for how the West should react, I am against sanctions. They won't affect day-to-day life in Belarus, and will strengthen the impression among Belarusians that the West is telling them how to live their lives and how to run their country.

What the West needs to do is realize that Lukashenka does enjoy popular support, and to ignore those who dismiss his popularity by saying, Stalin was popular, too - because by that logic, the best way to deal with Lukashenka is to intervene militarily, which is out of the question.

What the West needs to do is help the opposition figure out how they can attract a broader group of people. The West needs to stop supporting the opposition unconditionally, breeding "grant-suckers" - full-time oppositioners who only compromise the cause of freedom and democracy.

Last night, we saw the opposition to Lukashenka gain momentum, but we should not engage in wishful thinking: this only the beginning of the struggle. Before last night, the struggle was nominal. Now, it is real. But it is far from over.

19 сакавіка 2006

Elections in Belarus

I've been watching events in Minsk, on the sites such as Radio Svaboda, http://www17.calypso.net/ci-121741/news/ (dead right now), and the LiveJournal community minsk_by, Komsomolskaya Pravda

The highlights:

More people came than everybody expected, the cited number 50,000 seems credible to me.

The police behaved much better than anyone expected. No reports of mass violence so far.

People coming back from the square were leaving in a good mood. "There are a lot of us" seems to be the mood. I am proud of Belarusians that so many of them came out, despite the threats coming from Luka & Co, despite the way the police have been acting towards political protesters, and despite hundreds of arrests in the days preceding elections, and despite the nasty weather.

Even those who plan on coming to the Oktiabrskaya Sq tomorrow, have very little idea as what they are going to do.

Those who have voted for Lukashenka are at least 47% - according to the results by Levada & Co. The official results of 80% and higher will be taken only by the most naive Lukashenka sympathizers. Those who don't support the opposition are not necessarily Lukashenka's supporters. Many people I've talked to strongly dislike Lukashenka, but still don't have much respect for the opposition, because the "full-time oppositioners" take Western funding and don't have serious plans for winning.

I think such criticism is not without grounds. There is a certain opposition establishment in Belarus, whose full-time job is to show some results to their Western sponsors. In essense, they don't play to win: in fact, they are paid because they lose.

In my opinion, Milinkevich is a decent candidate, the best ever to challenge Lukashenka. But to win against Lukashenka, it may take an even stronger candidate, who is

a. Better connected to the people, esp. the potential swing voters, such as proletarians and state employees, who are very numerous in Belarus

b. Has a stronger, more leader-like personality. Milinkevich looks like a typical интеллигент "intelligent". As the "unified opposition candidate", he simply appears too soft. While Kozulin is more charismatic, he is an obvious careerist, less popular than Milinkevich, but fortunately, he has been acting in accord with Milinkevich.

The bottom line, today in Minsk people have shown - at least to themselves - that they are ready for change, that they are tired of being afraid. Lukashenka, on the other hand, has shown that he is indeed afraid. My best wishes and much respect goes to those who came today, and those who will come tomorrow. Long live Belarus!

PubliusPundit has more

11 сакавіка 2006

Addition to Blogroll

Great Songs From the Soviet Past has some really nice songs, some of them I loved ever since I was a kid.
This song about Kostia the heartbreaking fisher was one of the first three songs that my Mom taught me, when I was about 2. My aunt Lida, when she was a grad student living in a dorm, took me there, and I sang the songs to the chicks living at the dorm, who reportedly loved it. Strangely, I could never recall the performance, even though I do remember visiting the dorm. These days, it's the other way around: my performances is what I remember best - which is only fair, considering I want the audiences to remember them, too. Or is it?

08 сакавіка 2006

Commenting on Russia Blog

In the post here, Charlie Ganske of Russia Blog, who is a staff writer at Discovery Institute, complains about "hangover for the mainstream media from the runup to the invasion of Iraq", and "a deeper problem in how the West views Russia", supposedly revealed in a
Richard Pipes piece from March 1st in the Wall Street Journal, "Why the Bear Growls".

Below is my comment.

Compared to most of the articles on this blog, this one seems much weaker.

Defending Kremlin on the Ukranian gas problem by blaming the Ukranians is silly. Even if the allegations of theft are true, it doesn't excuse the blackmail that Putin resorted to. Two wrongs don't make a right, and to me and most peopple in the West, the wrong of stealing gas is much less than the wrong of cutting it off. Besides, after Putin's congratulations to Yanukovich, the "theft" explanation can't be taken seriously.

With the NGOs, again, suppose your allegations are true - I personally think they are. In this case, there are two ways of dealing with this: one is to do what Putin did, and the other is to enforce the law. If the authorities are so sure that money laundering takes place, why don't they prosecute it? It's not like burden of proof is much of a concern in Russia.

I agree with this blog's authors that Putin's persona has been vilified too much in the West - especially compared to Yeltsin's who was no less authoritarian than VVP.

However, when you complain about "war-mongering neocons running the Bush administration" - ironically, to make the same point about Iran that the war-mongers have been making - you lose credibility. When you dismiss the significance of the Hamas invitation to Moscow by pointing out the questionable fact of Hamas "humiliation", Americans won't take you seriously, because the detals of the visit can't compare in significance with the fact that they were invited in the first place. Trying to make such a comparison seems like whitewashing to me, and doesn' add to your credibility.

02 сакавіка 2006