Relations between parties and civil society deteriorated after Freedom Day; a protest in Brest has yielded some results
The tension between the bloggers who organized Freedom Day celebrations in 2018 and centre rightists has grown. Tell The Truth has organized “candidate schools” to prepare for the parliamentary elections. Protests against the battery factory construction near Brest, have prompted the authorities to make some counter-proposals.
Bloggers Palchis and Motolko who organized Freedom Day celebration in Grodno last week, lashed out in social media at the centre-right coalition (For Freedom, the UCP and the BCD), which organized a Freedom Day celebration in Minsk in a manner typical of the “old opposition”. However, this time centre-rightists attempted to avoid a public confrontation, which has a negative impact on the image of all participants in the conflict based on trifles, speculations and mutual revelations. That said, Statkevich, one of the Belarusian National Committee leaders, accused both, bloggers and centre-rightists.
Following Tell The Truth leaders, former presidential candidate and prominent independent economist Romanchuk met with Russian ambassador Babich. The greater openness of Russian diplomats and changes in approaches to contacts with civil society and the opposition may set a trend which other opposition organizations may pick up.
Local officials were forced to create a state-public group for environmental monitoring of hazardous production. The authorities invited the leader of the initiative group for holding a local referendum, Silitskaya, and a lawyer and a human rights activist, Kisliak, to become members of the group. However, representatives of the protest movement rejected the offer and aim to continue protests demanding to stop the construction of the battery factory.
Environmental movements are also active in other regions, including – those protesting against the chemical production “Omsk-Carbon” near Mogilev and a bleached pulp plant in Svetlogorsk.
Overall, due to efficient public pressure, local authorities are likely to continue attempts to integrate environmental protest activists in monitoring groups. Some protesting groups, supporting a more flexible approach, may agree to such authorities’ proposals.