Opposition groups’ activity in the regions

April 22, 2016 18:34

In spring and summer the most important and promising opposition activity in the regions was “Popular Referendum” campaign, organized by "Tell the Truth", "For Freedom", Belarusian Popular Front, and Belarusian Social Democratic Party opposition block. The rest of the opposition in the regions focused on the political prisoners and social issues, which are very important, but have low mobilization potential.

Local authorities consistently restrict citizens’ mass political activity. Parties and movements are denied permissions to hold public events and activists are still under pressure, including terminations of labour contracts.

For instance, the United Civil Party was not allowed to stage pickets in support of political prisoners and the "Fair World" Party was denied holding Labour Day celebrations, "For Freedom" and "Tell the Truth" movements were denied to hold Kalinowski’s Festival. Nevertheless, symbolic actions reminding about Belarusian political prisoners were held in all Belarusian regions. Despite the authorities’ denial, Kalinowski Festival was held in the Brest region.

In Grodno region, in Slonim, during spring and summer two activists - Dr. I. Shego and Marchik affiliated with the BPF – were dismissed.

The "Popular Referendum" Campaign, the organizers of which collect issues that have the greatest importance for the population, is active in almost all regions. This opposition’s initiative meets the citizen’s interests, which has been confirmed by the IISEPS public poll results. During times when citizens’ mass street activity is strongly suppressed by the authorities, "Popular Referendum" has a high mobilization potential.

Among the most effective activities initiated by the opposition in the regions were various and often successful campaigns, which addressed social problems locally. In Minsk oblast, a good example is the opposition to the Sino-Belarusian “High Technologies Park” (HTP) deployment in Smolevichy region. In the Gomel region it was a campaign organized by ‘Nash Dom’ and “Tell the Truth” campaigns, aimed at improving household environment for local residents. In Brest region, “Tell the Truth” and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party activists have managed to agree about street repairs and organized a campaign against the commercialization of state medical healthcare. The UCP has initiated a campaign to collect signatures in support of small border traffic.