Structural strengthening of Civil Society continues, but party-building does not progress
A film about Lukashenka’s state-funded opulence was watched by 5 million people. Against a backdrop of continuing repression, civil society continued to strengthen its structures via the unification of local and professional communities, coordination of public campaigns, development of a plan for the future of the country, and tentative dialogue with supporters of the authorities. Party construction, on the other hand, has paused.
The Youtube channel “Nexta” presented a film about Lukashenka’s luxurious lifestyle, watched by 5 million people. This record level of activity shows that interest in Belarusian politics and consequently protest potential remain high.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskya’s office presented a draft constitution that would transfer powers from the President to the Parliament, abolish the death penalty, recognise the white-red-white flag as the state flag, and the slogan “Long live Belarus” and gradually transition the use of Belarusian as the sole official state language.
The Coordination Council presented a plan for restoring the rule of law and achieving national reconciliation, in which it proposed amnesty for repentant civil servants who are willing to cooperate.
Daily protests continue in the form of small and short rallies, particularly in Minsk. March 8 was marked as female defenders of the fatherland day. Meanwhile, Maria Kolesnikova received the international women’s Award for bravery, as her detention was extended until May 8. Four political prisoners are on hunger strike, two – Losik and Bantser – are on dry hunger strike.
The “Skhod” [“Gathering”] forum of people’s delegates held two online meetings. The delegates decided that the forum’s main task is to overcome the country’s political crisis through dialogue. To do this, the Skhod must be independent and not aligned with any political grouping to avoid undermining the unique legitimacy derived from being elected by the citizens themselves. Diplomat Ihar Lyashchenya was nominated for the post of chairman of the meeting.
In Brest, the compilation of a petition against the operations of the battery plant has resumed. During the election campaign, Lukashenka met with representatives of the initiative group opposing the construction of this plant and promised a referendum. The only result was a change of ownership. Also in Brest, voters demand that their deputies speak out against the proposed legislative changes that would restrict citizens’ freedoms.
“Tell the Truth” held the annual Sviatlana Navumava Prize awards ceremony. Recipients included the Political Prisoners of Belarus, the human rights centre “Viasna”, and the initiatives “Together you are not alone” and “Honest People”.
The civil campaign against the song from the group “Halasy ZMesta”, which Belarusian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company selected as the Belarusian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, was successful. After numerous appeals from citizens, the European Broadcasting Union ruled that the song “I will teach you” cannot represent Belarus.
Belarusian think-tanks have announced the formation of an association representing research organisations.
The results of a government sociological survey indicate that a majority of Lukashenka supporters oppose changes to the Constitution and political reform. The formation of political parties supporting Lukashenka, such as the transformation of the state association “Belaya Rus” into a party, the party of Resurrection “Democratic Union”, and the party “Union”, has paused, and registration has been postponed by the organisers for the foreseeable future.