Sentence to Dmitry Dashkevich
Dmitry Dashkevich’s sentencing before he finished serving his prison term expands the authorities’ arsenal against political activists. Now, the release of political prisoners has become exceptionally arbitrary.
On August 28th, Dmitry Dashkevich, leader of a youth political organization “Young Front”, was sentenced to additional year in prison for “repeated violation of the prison rules”.
On March 24th, 2011 “Young Front” leader Dmirty Dashkevich was sentenced to two years in prison on malicious hooliganism charges. He was arrested on the eve of the last presidential elections, December 18, 2010.
Sentence to Dashkevich provoked deepening of the split in the democratic community regarding the boycott issue. Boycott supporters called upon democratic activists, who were registered as candidates, to join the boycott campaign.
High emotional tension around the boycott and political prisoners leaves the question of how the boycott could help releasing the political prisoners, open. The opposition is securely isolated from society, and the boycott campaign only adds to this isolation. Therefore the authorities have no reason to listen to the oppositions’ demands and only power pressure (or from external forces, or society), could motivate them to release political prisoners.
The Belarusian authorities could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.