At present, most analysts observing the situation in Belarus are confident that the collapse of the current regime is inevitable. But this could have been avoided.
Belarusian journalist Igor Ilyash believes that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made four fateful mistakes, each of which “widened the gap” between the state and the people and put an end to the future of his power. If the head of state did not allow at least one of them, he could count on the best way out of the situation for himself.
According to the expert, Lukashenka’s first mistake was denying the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic and unwillingness to fight it. Because of this, even citizens who were once indifferent to politics realized that they would have to save themselves on their own, and power in the eyes of the people turned out to be absolutely useless. As a result, people began to independently purchase personal protective equipment, observe self-isolation and refused to hold mass events. All this gave an impetus for the development of self-organization and political activity of Belarusians.
Batka’s second blunder was the thoughtless elimination of his main political competitors: Sergei Tikhanovsky and Viktor Babariko, who were arrested even before the start of the presidential election. These candidates were so popular among the population that the very lines to sign for their nomination turned into pickets. The harsh repressions that Alexander Lukashenko staged against the opposition did not leave indifferent even the most apolitical citizens.
The journalist named Lukashenka’s third mistake the violence against protesters who took to the streets in support of their candidates. In the hope of sorting out the discontent quickly and “in the old fashioned way,” the president did not take into account that the self-awareness of citizens had increased in recent years. They saw what was happening not as an action against the opposition, but as an action against the people. As a result, after beating and detaining dozens of people, hundreds of thousands of people who were not indifferent took to the streets.
Finally, the last nail in the coffin of the Belarusian leader’s political career was his refusal to compromise. The old man could release political prisoners, start negotiations, admit past mistakes and punish law enforcement officers who have exceeded their powers. But instead, Lukashenko decided to intensify terror and repression. The expert believes that this gave a short-term effect, but even the security officials believe that in the spring Belarus will face a second wave of even more violent protests.