Political organisations develop media infrastructure, Civil Society mobilises for the trials of Babaryka, journalists and medics
Political organisations are actively creating communication channels with supporters via social networks and competing successfully with traditional media. Political exiles continue to advocate for sanctions in response to security forces’ attempts to destroy human rights defenders’ organisational infrastructure, independent media, and trade unions.
Political organisations and leaders continue to strengthen their media presence by creating direct communication channels with supporters on social networks. The largest Youtube channels of politicians and organisations with more than 50,000 subscribers include Nash Dom TV [Our House TV] (130,000), UCP TV (106,000), Viktar Babaryka (93,100), Vadim Prokopiev (77,000), and Valery Tsepkala (55,000). Political exiles command the widest popularity due to the absence of self-censorship and a more robustly critical approach to the Lukashenka regime.
Independent media and bloggers are far ahead of state media in terms of social network subscribers and views and successfully promote their agenda in Belarusian society.
Repression has not stopped the campaign of solidarity with those subject to political persecution. At least 100 people, including Doctors from assorted clinics, attended the trial of Katsiaryna Barysevich and Artem Sarokin, who are accused of breaching medical confidentiality rules in the case of Raman Bandarenka, who died during a confrontation with security forces last November. The medical community continues to demonstrate a high level of self-organisation and mobilisation in support of the repressed.
A large number of people attempted to gain access to the trial of Viktar Babaryka, one of the leading prospective contenders in last August’s presidential election, but all failed. According to a Chatham House poll, despite spending the last six months in jail, Babaryka remains the most popular politician and a rating leader. Civil society organisations and political exiles continue to lobby to expand sanctions targeting a broader range of regime members and structures. The US has imposed sanctions against 43 Belarusian officials, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and university workers. The UK has similarly expanded its sanctions list against Belarusian officials.
Concurrently, political exiles continue to work within the security forces to encourage the defection of personnel and undermine loyalty to Lukashenka. As part of this strategy, the head of Tsikhanouskaya’s Cabinet, Valery Kavaleuski, recorded an address to civil servants and law enforcement officials.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has strengthened her team with special election representative Alexander Shlyk, who has 10 years of experience in the OSCE ODIHR, and since 2016 has been leading its Election Departments. Tsikhanouskaya continues to act as a magnet, attracting the attention of the international community to Belarus. Time magazine recently included her in its global list of one hundred influential young leaders.
Independent trade unions, human rights defenders and journalists have not suspended their activities despite searches and harassment.
The first session of the platform “Skhod” [Gathering]focused on forming working groups, defining strategy and electing 152 delegates to promote this agenda and facilitate feedback from supporters of change.
With these initiatives, the Civil Society aims to transform the protest agenda to include positive policy proposals to gather further support within society.