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At present it is about the overthrow of Lukashenko

Joint statement of three ICOR organizations: from Belarus “Red Wedge”, from Russia Marxist-Leninist Platform, and from Ukraine Coordination Council of the Workers’ Class Movement, 30.08.2020


On 9 August 2020 a regular presidential election took place in the Republic of Belarus. The election campaign was characterized by exclusion from political activity of the most important people who could influence the election outcome. The following persons were arrested: Viktor Babariko, presidential candidate; the campaign manager of one of the candidates; and Swetlana Tikhanovskayas husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky. The Central Election Commission counted no more than half of the signatures collected for presidential candidate Zepkalo, so that he was not registered for the vote.

During the election campaign the authorities actively prevented the candidates from communicating with their voters by restricting the time and the number of locations for communication between the candidates and their voters. Selective arrests of citizens occurred during the election rallies.

Following the announcement of the preliminary election result on 9 August 2020, a peaceful gathering of citizens wanting to protest the election fraud was brutally suppressed by special police and Interior Ministry troops who used rubber bullets, flash grenades and water cannons. Interior Ministry staff in cars drove into the demonstrators and shot at them. In the first night following the election some 3,000 citizens were arrested in various Belarusian cities, mainly in the capital of the republic. Among them were many members of the press, including some from the Russian Federation and the European Union, who had come to report about the holding of the elections in Belarus. To limit the spread of information about what was going on in the streets, and to restrict the possibility of mobilizing citizens to organize themselves, the authorities shut down the Internet, including proxy and VPN servers.

The confrontation between citizens and police went on for three nights. During this time more than 7,000 citizens were arrested, including many journalists, workers, and activists from various parties and movements, among them also Leftists. Access to information was and still is greatly restricted. Hundreds of people were injured to various degrees. Three people were killed. Alexander Taraikovsky – shot to death by the police near the Pushkinskaya subway station in Minsk. Alexander Vichor – beaten to death by policemen in Gomel. Gennady Shutov – shot in the head in Brest. Currently more than ten people are missing.

After the prisoners were released it turned out that people were exposed to torture, beatings and sexual abuse in the police stations. They were not allowed to use the toilet, got nothing to eat and only a little water, and were not allowed to sleep. Medical assistance was provided only if the Interior Ministry officers noticed that a prisoner could die otherwise.

From 12 August a phase of peaceful protests began. Workers in enterprises began talking about an all-republic strike against election fraud and police violence. Sadly, most strikers were suppressed. Threats of dismissal and actual dismissal from jobs, threats that they would have to make up for any damage caused by the strike; eviction (a considerable part of the employees and their families live in apartments and lodging houses belonging to the factories), disciplinary action and arrests of activists in the strike committees. In particular, Sergei Dylevsky, chairman of the strike committee of the Minsk tractor plant, and Aleksandr Lavrynovich, chairman of the strike committee of the Minsk wheel tractor plant, were arrested. Currently the employees of many large companies with active strike committees are conducting an “Italian strike” (work-to-rule), are leaving the official unions and preparing to establish their own unions.

On 16 and 23 August in Minsk, protest marches with more than 200,000 participants took place. The marches were supported by most towns in Belarus. The authorities sent out Interior Ministry troops and police against the marchers. On 23 August they were beefed up by regular military units with armored personnel carriers and lethal weapons. Lukashenko threatened to use deadly force against the demonstrators in the event of “provocations”.

The situation in Belarus changes from day to day. We realize that not all participants in the protests and those striving for power are working for the socialist idea. But at present it is about the overthrow of the usurper who has maximally restricted the rights of the population (and especially of the workforces in enterprises) to democracy, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. This is a person who has changed the rights and freedoms of all Belarusians irrespective of political views, religion, age and gender.

During all the years of his rule Lukashenko has tried to sell his power as a “socialist” regime that puts social justice and the protection of citizens by the state above all else. Through all these years, to Leftists it was clear that Lukashenko’s regime had nothing to do with social justice, since it was not just to keep the proletariat working for low wages, without unemployment benefits, and without free unions. The whole power system in Belarus is directed against the working people, who are completely deprived of freedom of thought and of their own opinion. The laws are rewritten so that there is no right to strike, no right of assembly, and not even a right to express one’s opinion in the workplace. For any actions and statements, workers can be dismissed, robbed of supplements to their miserable wages, robbed of their homes, and their children can be made wards of the state. What Lukashenko calls a “welfare state” is in reality a concentration camp with economic easements to keep people content with government policy.

Despite the protests and the obvious illegitimacy of the present regime, it is still possible that it will remain in place. By force of arms and propaganda it can stay afloat. However, in the next six months it will be confronted by a massive wave of emigration, devaluation, and a catastrophic deterioration of the living standard of the population, which will lead to a new wave of protest and the fall of the regime.

We say an unequivocal no to:
- Usurpation of power
- Election fraud
- Police violence
- Violation of human rights
- Violation of the freedom of assembly

Lukashenko and his followers are not even a paper tiger, but only a shadow of one. And only the first rays of sunlight are needed to disperse this shadow. Come to life again, Belarus!

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