Civil Society’s influence on the national agenda declines as Tsikhanouskaya’s office attempts to rally the diaspora

Category status:
- (The situation has deteriorated)
20-26.09.2021
Image from https://t.me/rada_vision/1944

The influence of Civil Society organisations on the national agenda continues to decrease, despite the relocation of media projects abroad and the emergence of new initiatives to involve supporters of change in the democratic movement. Tsikhanouskaya’s office is trying to consolidate the diaspora by holding a Peace Conference of Belarusians in Vilnius. However, tensions remain regarding the issue of sanctions; media pressure from opponents of sanctions is increasing.

Political exiles plan to support Civil Society initiatives to encourage transformation in Belarus. This includes traditional diaspora organisations and new initiatives from Tikhanovskaya’s office, the Coordination Council Court, the NAU, and solidarity funds. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is in the top 5 contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The NAU continues its campaign for international non-recognition of Lukashenka and the Belarusian government. A petition in support of this proposal has already gathered more than 7,000 signatures. Possible repressions against those in Belarus limit the circle of participants to exiles.

IT and media projects shut down in Belarus are restoring their activities abroad and involving the diaspora to support change and Belarusian Civil Society. The startup hub “Imaguru” has opened a Lithuanian office, and the “Belarus 2.0” citizen journalist project has launched.

Activists initiated a campaign to draw the international community’s attention to political prisoners, particularly the human rights centre “Viasna” activists. As a result, actions were held in more than a dozen European cities.

Overall, the influence of Civil Society and independent media on the national agenda is decreasing, and the number of “extremist” Telegram channels is growing and updated weekly (over 220, to date). Citizens are also persecuted for reposts and personal correspondence, abetted by arbitrary detentions and the general repressive agenda of the authorities.

Part of the diaspora aligns with anti-sanctions rhetoric, causing tension in the protest movement and diluting the democratic agenda of Civil Society.

Supporters of change and activists continue to emigrate due to the protracted political crisis, continuing repression, and increasing ideological pressure on dissidents. Private businesses are also contemplating relocation due to possible tax changes. As a consequence, the potential of Civil Society and the protest movement inside Belarus is weakened.

Due to repression, political organisations inside Belarus are trying to work with their activists and sympathisers online but cannot engage in public initiatives.

Emigration of dissidents and businesses will continue in the coming months, further reducing the influence of Civil Society on the formation of a positive agenda.

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