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Vitaly Portnikov: Belarusians must now make the ultimate choice

Protesters face a cordon of riot police in Minsk. Photo:
Vitaly Portnikov: Belarusians must now make the ultimate choice
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Thousands of people in the streets of Minsk and other Belarusian cities – popular rallies all across the country as people come out in force against one of Europe’s last dictators.

It is clear that the Belarusians did not come out because they support Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was actually an accidental candidate for the presidency… and not even because they understand what kind of country they want to live in, what values ​​unite them. They came out because they no longer want to be serfs of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. This is a popular protest against injustice in a country where there have never been free elections.

Everyone knew that Lukashenka would declare himself the final winner. His power system allows for no democratic elections, but he needs a popular plebiscite that confirms his powers. For Lukashenka, the people who rebelled against this state of affairs are schemers and conspirators. Today, the important question is simply who will overcome whom. Will Lukashenka defeat the Belarusian people?  Or will the Belarusian people defeat Lukashenka? And, the ultimate question – how many Belarusians are willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of their country?

There is one thing that neither the protesters nor Lukashenka understand – that the state built by the dictator is doomed. It will collapse because it was never a real state, but simply a temporary fiefdom ruled by Lukashenka. It has no real infrastructure, just as there was no real infrastructure in Yanukovych’s Ukraine. The Belarus of 1991-2020 will simply burst like a bubble… and its inhabitants will be left with scattered bricks that will serve to build a new home and a new country.

This new Belarus will face a very simple choice: either become part of the Russian Federation, or stand up to Russia and begin building a new state that will break the alliance with Russia and move towards integration with the EU and NATO.

Lukashenka’s long rule simply allowed Belarusians to postpone this choice, a banal choice between good and evil, between existence and disappearance. The Belarusian people must now make the ultimate choice.


Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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