Taking part in social protests is a good training for the opposition
On March 17, a meeting of Deputy Chairman of the Smolevichi Executive Committee Mr. Verevkin and local dacha owners took place near Minsk. The meeting concerned the construction plan, envisaging construction of a Chinese industrial park, which would be in the immediate vicinity of the dachas.
Involvement of regional authorities in the negotiations confirms the general trend that at least the authorities are willing to enter into a dialogue with the protesters, particularly in cases when the latter are well organized (in this case, the protesters were organized and supported by the leadership of the “Tell the Truth!” campaign). Previously, the governor of Minsk Oblast, Mr. Batura, met with dacha owners.
On the one hand, the strategic importance for the Belarusian authorities of the construction project (it has already been agreed with the Chinese Embassy) implies that the authorities will adhere to their position as long as possible. On the other hand, it is likely that the negative publicity of the project, i.e. a “Chinese invasion” of Belarus (rumors circulate that the project will bring 600,000 Chinese workers), keeps the authorities from signing the decree to launch this project and, in the end will reflect interests of the local residents in the body of this document.
Representation of collective interests remains the most effective means of influence on both, the authorities and the population, available to political and civic organizations.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.