Friday, March 24, 2006

Pouring petrol on the pyre

While it will likely come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Belarusian bully Alexander Lukashenko, the crackdown on peaceful demonstrators last night in Minsk hits home a bit harder in this part of the world.

After shaking and shivering out on the streets of Kiev for ten days and nights a little over a year ago in support of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, for the first time in my life I saw first hand the true power wielded by the conscientious constituent. The idea that democratic change could be brought about throughout the former Soviet space was not only brought home here, but it also appeared to set a spark to
kindling in Ukraine's neighbor to the North.

As Belarusian whispers for change in their own country became battle cries on the streets of Kiev late in 2004, an end to the reign of Europe’s last dictator seemed not only possible, but reasonable to expect.

Following Sunday’s farcical election sweeping Lukashenko back into office for a third consecutive term with more than 80 percent of the vote, a movement inspired by Georgia and Ukraine seemed too good to be true. And maybe it was.

The throngs of protestors dwindled from 10,000 the first night to half that number by Monday as scores of activists were arrested either entering or leaving the makeshift camp, and only numbered in the hundreds as the storm troopers under Lukashenko’s command descended on the peaceful tent city early Friday morning.

After witnessing the orange uprising, this news leaves one more than a little sad and angry. Well, really fucking pissed off might be an even better way to put it. But as striking and inspirational as Ukraine’s popular revolt was, this first step in Belarus may mean even more.

Only weeks ago, Lukashenko’s grip on this nation viewed by many around the world as a backwater of Soviet-era repression looked so solid that any protest seemed doubtful. Through all his threats of crushing any movement against him, and his no doubt relishing in his lone and
(very) vocal backing from the East in the form of the Kremlin, Lukashenko appeared invincible.

But Mr. Lukashenko is, in reality, anything but. For as the rest of the world has condemned him, and it appears that European and American leadership now stand ready to isolate him further, Moscow and Vladimir Putin will not be enough to save him. No one will be able to save him from his own people.

Just as was the case in Ukraine and Georgia before it in recent years, France more than two centuries ago and in the world’s oldest democracy in the United States…you can only stand on the neck of the people for so
long. They will get up at some point.

As ‘order’ is restored for the moment in Lukashenko’s Minsk, the funeral fire has already been lit and no amount of huffing and puffing from this tyrant will be able to put it out.

well, ya know...we all want to change the world.


Blogger magnolia said...

I'l be back!

5:44 AM  

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