Authorities respond heavily even to internet activity
Authorities demonstrate their willingness to stop any unauthorized political activity among young people before the elections. Authorities’ response demonstrates a poor set of counteraction tools: instead using soft ‘information’ means, they resort to harsh power measures.
On August 30th, several youth activists, moderators in several groups in the Russian social network VKontakte were detained in Belarus. Unofficial reports say all in all, about 5 persons were detained.
Detention of youth activists at their homes by police means that the authorities are considering forceful physical resistance as the main tool, and discard the softer counter-propaganda information campaign against their opponents. In the summer of 2011 the government used both methods, and achieved its goals, killing off a youth protests’ wave.
It should be anticipated that before the end of the election campaign, the authorities will severely persecute for any political activity. In the media strict censorship will be enacted and speeches of some candidates calling for an elections boycott will not be broadcasted.
Such traditional behavior demonstrates both, the lack of state propaganda specialists and the general stiffness of the governmental system where decisions made by the country’s management do not receive adequate informational and ideological support. The most striking example occurred in July, when the so-called “teddy bears drop” was ignored by the confused state media.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.