Belarusian opposition confuses their supporters with conflicting strategies
Belarusian political prisoner and former presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, who is in the Mogilev prison, urged Belarusians to civil resistance on the election day. The opposition has neither joint arrangements, nor a single scenario for the election campaign, in fact, they are sending mixed messages to society. Even bitter opponents of President Lukashenka cannot reach an agreement about the single scenario how to oppose to the regime. Political prisoner Statkevich has called upon Belarusians to mark ballots so that it “would clearly show their opposition to the policies of the ruling regime”. Former leader of the “Tell the Truth!” campaign, Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu appealed to the opposition candidates to withdraw from the election campaign, which somewhat coincides with the boycott strategy by Charter 97. So far, the Belarusian authorities are satisfied with the swordplay by the opposition, one part of which is fully involved in the election campaign, while the other part calls to boycott the elections thus disorienting the opposition electorate.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.