All this reminds late 80s-early 90s.
Over 100 people went for a spontaneous rally in a small urban settlement Bahusheusk, Vitsebsk region. The reason for that was the authorities’ decision to close the local hospital and polyclinic, and to send the residents to the district center Sianno, located 36 kilometers away, for treatment. The local pensioners call it “the death valley”.
The action took place on October 18, and already on the next day the local authorities stirred up, offered the protesters negotiations and promised not to close the hospital.
Shortly before that, on October 9, milkmaids and mechanics in the village of Valasovichy announced a strike demanding to restore the director of the local state farm, previously fired by the authorities, at his position. In this case, the protesters enjoyed absolute victory – ordinary villagers managed to defend their man as the head of the agricultural enterprise.
So why does the Belarusian province rebel against the authorities more and more often? Representative of the Belarusian National Congress in Slonim Viktar Marchyk answers the questions of Charter97.org.
- The economic crisis hit the Belarusian regions the hardest. And the situation is not improving, but only getting worse, so it will be as in the saying: the farther in, the deeper. It was not only possible to predict riots in small towns of Belarus - one must have been blind and unreasonable, so as not to foresee that they will flare up more and more often.
As for the situation in our town and surrounding area I will say: the authorities are winding up a spiral of discontent more and more. People have progressed from subtle grumbling to open speeches on the slightest occasion.
There will come a day, when, just like in 2017 with the notorious “parasites decree”, someone will carelessly “light a match”, and everything will “blast with a big boom”.
Lukashenka and his gang climbed onto the Klyuchevskaya Sopka: the steam is hissing around, the soil is getting hot, bubbles go popping here and there. One bubble popped in Bahusheusk yesterday, another – in the Homel region the day before yesterday. And tomorrow many bubbles may go popping everywhere, so the authorities will only have to turn their heads screaming “Blue murder!”
The people are not going to tolerate all this forever. The recent couple of years showed that the people have much stronger desire to defend their rights that the bosses might think. I think that the “Bahusheusk rebels” will expand, and the people will start uprising all over the country. The government headed by Lukashenka has long lost own footing: no matter what they do, their situation will only get worse.
- Why do the protesters in small towns and villages manage to achieve small, but real victories?
- On the periphery, the situation is the most difficult. In small towns, local authorities consider themselves omnipotent kings. It’s already hard for them to understand what they can and cannot do. They hardly see the “red lines” and often make rash decisions, after which riots erupt.
And here, as soon as the situation gets out of control, the authorities start the “ostrich phase”. They are terribly afraid of spontaneous performances of people and immediately include a “rear gear”.
First of all, guilty conscience of the local “princes” needs no accuser: they know that they constantly went too far, broke the laws and turned people against themselves.
Secondly, people in the regions really, without exaggeration, are driven to despair. Most have absolutely nothing to lose. And if people rise, they can tear down local “kings” and leaders of higher rank in their way.
Regional authorities are also very afraid that they may just end up in prison. Everything is much more noticeable here than with the capital, and after the change of power there will be more witnesses at the trial. However, it will be so: after the fall of the regime, many of them will find themselves in the places of confinement.
- Can this regional experience be used on a national scale?
- This is a good school of self-organization. It is important to understand that here the quantity easily turns into quality: if strikes begin simultaneously in different towns and cities of Belarus, the authorities will not be able to “put pressure” on the protesters.
It is clear that in 24 years of the reign of one well-known person, power degenerated, acquired cronyism, corruption, lost vigilance and the ability to make sound decisions.
But, as they say, all 100% cannot be inadequate. In the case of mass protests throughout the country, I am sure there will be those who are still able to make informed decisions and negotiate with representatives of the rising people. And in Belarus, revolution could achieve victory quite possibly, like in Armenia. If this is possible at the local level - then why this can not happen on a national scale?
For the time being, higher-ranking officials manage to influence the conflicts of the population and local authorities and extinguish the hot spots of human anger and hatred. But if there are more hot spots, the quantity will surely turn into quality.
- Besides, about anger and hatred. A Russian pensioner recently made a gift to the Minister of Labor and Social Protection – a rope and a piece of soap so he could hang himself. What is our pensioners’ attitude towards the authorities?
- The Belarusian pensions are even smaller than the Russian ones, and the retirement age is also raised. Our pensioners survive on $ 100-150 per month, although it is difficult to call this a life. How else can they relate to those who robbed them of a decent anility? I think that the eloquent gesture of a pensioner from a neighboring country would have encouraged them.
From conversations with pensioners, the former electorate of Lukashenka, I know for sure that now they curse him, what the world is worth. People understand who is to blame.
Let's look at the photos of those who went against the government in Bahusheusk or the Homel region. These are simple people with simple faces: pensioners, workers, milkmaids, children...
You know, it reminds me of the rallies of the late 1980s - early 1990s in miniature. The same ordinary people of different ages and occupations then sent to the dustbin of history the huge edifice of the Soviet Union. Many, I am sure, could not even foresee the consequences of the fact that today they went to a spontaneous rally.
Today we see the same people at spontaneous protests. And they will decide the fate of the country, they will remove Lukashenka from power, these very simple people.
The opposition now - almost all the people who are tired of this system. The opposition leaders must understand that only these simple people will be able to change the power - those who will become fed up with tolerating all this.
Human anger in the Square, the mass of people - they will demolish everything. Take history: any dictators, any satraps were removed either by the will of God or by ordinary people. It is these very ordinary, “homely” inhabitants of villages and cities that we see now at spontaneous rallies.