Belarus’s Moment of Truth
While the Belarusian security apparatus has stepped up its violence against peaceful protesters, the demonstrations themselves have evolved to maintain the moral high ground. There is no longer any question that President Aleksandr Lukashenko has lost any remaining shred of legitimacy.
MINSK – The protests that have roiled Belarus since Sunday’s stolen presidential election are evolving, with mass demonstrations giving way to more dispersed mobilizations on the model pioneered in Hong Kong. Because such “liquid” protests arise spontaneously and quickly gather massive numbers of participants, they are much harder for the state to suppress.
But that may not matter, because the authorities are also shifting their approach, replacing merely defensive tactics with offensive measures aimed at intimidation. After suppressing the initial protests on Sunday and Monday, the police have been lining the streets of Minsk, blocking off many areas and selectively stopping passing cars to detain and beat their drivers.
Only by luck did I avoid a similar fate on Tuesday night while hitching a ride around Minsk. Since then, I have witnessed many beatings and have recorded many instances of security forces dispersing protesters with gunfire, as well as documenting the injuries caused by their liberal use of rubber bullets.