Belarusian demonstrators against Vagrants Law now protest against Lukashenka regime

Regional demonstrations in Belarus in February, 2017 (Image: svaboda.org)

Regional demonstrations in Belarus in February, 2017 (Image: svaboda.org) 

2017/02/26 • Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Politics

Over the last ten days, something remarkable has happened in Belarus: Protests against Minsk’s efforts to extract more money from the population via the now notorious vagrants law have shifted from being about the economics of that action to being a political protest against the country’s president Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

That transformation which has been chronicled by many Belarusian observers (e.g., charter97.org), reflects the coming together of three things: the sense that no one in the country now supports the vagrants law, the conclusion that the regime can’t imprison all those who won’t pay the tax, and indications that Lukashenka is now frightened.

Reports from around Belarus show that no one backs Lukashenka on the vagrants tax and that he and his regime can’t possibly imprison all those – now estimated at more than 415,000 people – who say they won’t pay it.

And that conviction that the situation has now become a contest between the Belarusian people and Lukashenka has been strengthened by the fact that Belarusian lawyers are now rushing to help those rejecting the law, much as US lawyers did in response to US exclusion order.

Moreover, with protests continuing all week at the site of the Kuropaty mass graves and with the Roman Catholic archbishop coming out in support of them, ever more Belarusians now view the fight over the vagrants law as a fight with Lukashenka about the future of their country.

More mass protests are planned in the major cities of Belarus today and tomorrow. They are likely to be larger and more political than those last week, and there is now evidence that Lukashenka’s regime may now be more afraid of provoking clashes than of using them as his dictatorial regime has in the past.

Security officials have announced that they are going to pull some of their special forces off the streets, effectively yielding them to the people and showing that there are many within the Lukashenka regime who are already looking beyond him and don’t want to be tarred with their past ties.

Nonetheless, clashes between the demonstrators and the police are possible, especially at Kuropaty where protesters say they expect more provocations from Lukashenka forces. But in the current environment, any use of force by the Minsk regime is more likely to spark more protests rather than to intimidate anyone.

In short, Belarus has entered a revolutionary situation, one in which Lukashenka is unlikely to survive. What will come next depends on the Belarusian people, those inside the Belarusian government who have to make their own calculations about the future, and the attitudes and actions of Moscow and Western governments.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Robert

    Hmm… very interesting. Kudos for the People of Belarus!

    The Belarusians seem quite clear on what they want and don’t want and are quite open in expressing their goals. Do they have a Real Leader who actually listens to them and is capable of implementing the Goals of the People? Their requests/demands seem quite reasonable…

    • Alex George

      Its hard to say. Sannikov is in exile in the Baltics- he could easily become a Vaclav Havel type President.

      But the question is what is going on in Belarus and who is doing it . There are reports of a purge last year of pro-Russian officers from the Army, middle ranking and generals. Also reports of the creation of territorial forces, which would have a special meaning in Belarus. But its difficult to get confirmation of anything.

      • Murf

        I hope you are right about the purge of the Pro Russians in the military.
        After what happened in Ukraine Luka had to know he was next on Putin’s list.

        • Andrew Chmil

          And PROVOKE Putin? — More? — NO WAY JOSE!

        • Andrew Chmil

          HAVE THAT TROLL PROVIDE THE LINKS!!!

          He’s a LIAR !!!

        • Andrew Chimilewsky’s Daddy!

          Two old Talmudist lead the pack of angry Trolls who crave attention …

  • zorbatheturk

    So, a Minsk Maidan coming up? It wouldn’t be a Maidan now without Victoria Nuland handing out free cookies, right? Start baking, Vickie! I like pecan chocolate chip brownies.

    • Alex George

      Ha ha good one.

      This article is about a volunteer in a Belarusian expat battalion fighting with Ukraine: https://charter97.org/en/news/2017/2/16/241081/

      He says they will go to Belarus to fight if Putin invades there. He says many Belarusians wish to join the battalion in order to get military experience, but they don’t have enough money to take them all in. At the foot of the article are account numbers for those who would like to contribute.

      • zorbatheturk

        The Putinator may yet be stymied.

    • Alex George

      Belarus has given a lot of vital equipment to Ukraine, including night-fighting upgrades for its tanks, plus refits for its Mig-29s. See: http://belarusdigest.com/story/belarus-helps-ukraine-military-equipment-22274

      So Belarusians could count on similar Ukrainian support if they ended up in a fight with the Kremlin, whatever items of equipment are scarce in Belarus.

      • slavko

        I’m pretty certain that Ukraine and Belarus will be in some alliance as I don’t recall any historical or current animosity between them.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Unfortunately a Dwarfstanian invasion now appears ever more likely. The dwarf can’t afford “losing” Belarus; if (or should one now start saying WHEN?) a Minsk Maidan happens the dwarf will definitely send in his “little green men” supported by tanks. He won’t prop up Lukashenko who has been far too independent in the dwarf’s twisted mind, but simply annex the country. He’s already been moving army units northwards. And all of Dwarfstan will chant “Belarus nash!” and applaud the dwarf for bringing Belarus back as part of Great Dwarfstan.
    The west? It will be its usual timid self, with useless Putinknutschler Merkel leading the appeasers saying “We must hold talks with Putin” and doing nothing.

    • MichaelA

      whats he going to invade with?

      • Alex George

        He could use the tanks which are supposed to be part of the Zapad joint military exercises in a few months time.

        It will be interesting if he does. About two years ago the US were going to give arms to Syrian rebel groups via Belarus. it fell through but not because Belarus wasn’t keen. Belarus was to supply 700 Spandrels. Which means they’ve got a lot more for their own use. And the 700 are still there.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        The dwarf has over 60,000 troops twiddling their thumbs in the Crimea. He can easily withdraw half temporarily. He also has significant troop concentrations along the border with the Ukraine which he can use, they can be shifted to the border with Belarus quickly. He can also send marine batallions from the Northern, Baltic and Far East Fleets if necessary.

        • Alex George

          Its not nearly as easy as that. He has those troops in Crimea and other places for a reason. He is stretched to the limit already against Syria and against Ukraine, whose land forces are almost as large as his own and getting better equipped and trained with each month.

          Added to which, he does not want to mobilise, for political reasons – virtually every commentator on Russia agrees on that. He wouldn’t want to use conscripts for an invasion of Belarus anyway, but he needs his contract soldiers in Donbass and Crimea, and in Syria.

          He *might* do the invasion of Belarus, but it will be a big stretch, and he will need time. He has lots of troops planned to go there, but in August, not now.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Annexing Belarus will solve these problems at least in part. By law conscripts can’t serve abroad, so the dwarf can’t use them in Belarus. But if he were to annex Belarus he CAN send conscripts there as part of the occupying forces, thus supplementing those Belarusian soldiers willing to serve in Dwarfstan’s armed forces. This would free his contract soldiers for service in the Donbas and Syria once he has seized and annexed Belarus, which won’t take long in my opinion.

          • Alex George

            You aren’t responding to my point. He needs contract soldiers for an invasion of Belarus because he needs quality. The legal side will be solved one way or another, but its the capability that matters.

            “which won’t take long in my opinion.”

            You have repeatedly stated this, but never given a basis for it – based on actual knowledge or facts about Belarus, I mean.

        • Alex George

          And no, he won’t just strip the Northern, Baltic and Far East Fleets either. As for the north, he wants to claim the Arctic and he has a real issue with separatism in those areas – his marines are virtually all he has got there. Plus Norway and Finland are re-arming. Many Russians fear the Finns intend to recover Viipuri and Karjala – I don’t think they do but that is not the point.
          As for the Baltic, he is really concerned about the Poles, plus Sweden is re-arming and getting aggressive.
          As for the Far East, Japan’s suggestion that Russia hand over the Kuriles as part of a trade deal created alarm in the Kremlin. It has just announced the formation of a new division to be based in the Kuriles. All BS of course – Russia doesn’t have the resources to form new divisions except a skeleton, but it shows the Kremlin mindset. They have already taken troops from there to use in Ukraine and are probably already deeply regretting it . They won’t take any more troops from the Far East.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            The key word is TEMPORARILY transfer troops from the Crimea, Baltic, Northern and Pacific Fleets etc etc. Once Belarus is part of the dwarf’s USSR Mark II they can be transferred back to their home stations, and occupation duties taken over by locals willing to serve in Dwarfstan’s army and Dwarfstanian conscripts. And the dwarf can always use mercenaries as in the Donbas and Syria.
            Neither Finland nor dai-Nippon will attack Dwarfstan, and the dwarf knows that too. If the dwarf and Co REALLY believe that Finland will send in its troops to liberate Viipuri and Karelia, and Japan the Kuriles, then they are suffering from an advanced stage of paranoia.
            Sweden and Poland rearming is the consequence of the dwarf’s own aggressive policies towards these countries, and nobody suggests that either will start anything against Dwarfstan.

          • Alex George

            You came up with the absurd suggestion that Russia would use marines from its Northern, Baltic or Far Eastern Fleets for an invasion of Belarus – don’t blame me if I told you the simple facts that you should have known already. These units already have roles.

            “TEMPORARILY” is meaningless.

            “If the dwarf and Co REALLY believe that Finland will send in its troops to liberate Viipuri and Karelia”

            That’s not the way that Russia operates, so why would it expect other countries to do so? I suggest reading Russian accounts e.g. in RBTH of how they think other countries operate against them. Anyone who thinks the Kremlin doesn’t worry about these things, or that it will just blithely take troops away from these areas, is simply ignorant.

            “Sweden and Poland rearming is the consequence of the dwarf’s own aggressive policies towards these countries”

            Irrelevant.

            “nobody suggests that either will start anything against Dwarfstan.”

            On the contrary, that is exactly what Russian writers suggest. They applaud Putin’s maintenance of large numbers of troops in these areas as a deterrent to what they see as NATO expansionism into Russia’s God-given sphere of influence.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Aren’t you confusing what the dwarf’s propaganda tells the people of Dwarfstan- e.g. “NATO is about to invade” with what the leadership really thinks/knows?
            The dwarf and his chums KNOW that NATO won’t attack Dwarfstan if Moscow doesn’t attack a NATO member first. They can therefore easily temporarily denude the Baltic and Northern Fleets of their marines- Norway won’t cross the border and advance on Murmansk. Finland won’t advance and liberate Viipuri and Karelia- the very idea is laughable. And Peking won’t seize Primorskii Krai- not yet, anyway. It is waiting patiently for the right moment.
            The dwarf also knows Kyiv won’t try to liberate the Crimea just yet. If he really does need more than 60,000 troops there, then it would suggest that the Crimeans are not as happy with Moscow’s (or Aksyonov’s) rule as the propaganda claims. But even 30,000 troops should be able to stifle any discontent.
            The point is, the dwarf can find the troops for a takeover of Belarus if/when he decides that is in Moscow’s interests. As for Syria, if he has to choose between Syria and Belarus or the Ukraine, Syria will be dropped. Syria does is not a vital interest for the dwarf, but in his warped view Minsk and Kyiv are.

          • Alex George

            No I am not confusing anything at all, but you are.

            Fear of attack by NATO and other regimes is genuine in the Kremlin. And they understand “attack”: to mean what they call hybrid warfare. Russia is not giong to denude these areas of soldiers – anyone who believes otherwise doesn’t understand Russia.

            Their talk about NATO “encirclement” to take just one example does not accord with the facts, but its a genuinely held position by many in the Russian elite. And so on for many others.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            There’s no such thing as “NATO encirclement”. Finland isn’t a NATO member; nor are Belarus, the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Stans (Kazakhstan etc), Mongolia, China or North Korea. Anyone who can read a map can see that this whole idea of encirclement is pure nonsense.
            China is a far greater threat to Dwarfstan’s territorial integrity as it wants the territories back that Aleksandr II stole in 1856 and 1860. Only a lunatic would REALLY believe that NATO will march into Dwarfstan. Why on earth would it?

          • zorbatheturk

            ruSSiyans must always have an external enemy. Otherwise they fall apart. Which hopefully will happen soon.

          • Alex George

            “Only a lunatic would REALLY believe that NATO will march into Dwarfstan.”

            Sorry, but that’s not true. Many Russians do believe it. Being misguided or wrong does not mean one is insane.

          • Andrew Chmil

            “Alex George” is a “MOLE-TROLL” … besides a LIAR….

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            I totally disagree. I doubt very much whether Alex George is a, to use your expression, “MOLE-TROLL”. We don’t always agree about things, but that hardy makes him- or me- a troll.

          • Andrew Chmil

            YOU NO! :)

            Him?? — Then I conclude he is STUPID!
            And/or most capable of ignoring what he elects to not like.
            I have seen such from him before.

            He certainly likes the entities on “Ukraine Today USA”. :)

            Nevertheless …. HE LIES!
            So that sucks in and of itself…. or you may elect to call such a
            “studied ignoring of presented evidence”.
            His choice… or “weakness” or …..

            He ELECTS to not see what a few mouse clicks would reveal.
            I’ve seen such from him already.
            A preconceived idea is more important.
            Fine!

          • Andrew Chmil

            OR ….

            as per “Alex George” —- & his Ruski & Serbian friends —- * I * am the Kremlin Troll” that he claims “has been exposed” —- yeah … sure….

            My online identity for 20 + years can be established…

            I offered him my # …. etc,, sure .. better that little faqqot believe the trolls …
            perhaps you as well, given that you appear to identify with him…. :)

    • Alex George

      I disagree that the dwarf will annex Belarus – why would he? He always works through puppets. If he does try invasion, it will be to set up a friendly government .

      I also expect that he will support Lukashenka. Previous public spats were all just part of Lukashenka putting on the squeeze for more subsidies and they both understood that. Fundamentally, Lukashenka is a kleptocrat, same as Putin. They are both criminals .

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Right now we don’t KNOW whether the demonstrations against Lukashenko will continue as on the Maidan, or will peter out after a week or two. But if Lukashenko is about to be toppled the dwarf will most definitely invade. And if he does, Luka will be out- he’s too independent for the dwarf, e.g. refusing to recognise the Crimea as Dwarfstanian and even publicly condemning the seizure.
        Once in Belarus, the dwarf’s troops won’t leave. And the dwarf will annex the country and declare “Belarus nash!” if only to placate the extreme nationalists in Dwarfstan and make himself look good to the population- always handy when conditions in the country are slowly but surely going downhill. Who’s going to stop him? Certainly not Merkel.

        • Alex George

          *If Lukashenka is toppled, the dwarf won’t necessarily invade;
          *If he does invade, it will most likely be to re-establish Lukashenka. The dwarf hasn’t got anyone else and he won’t let it be billed as a Russian takeover. He never does that anyway, and particularly not in Belarus.
          *Putin doesn’t care about Lukashenka recognising Ukraine. its very low on the scale of importance.
          *True, Putin’s troops won’t leave, but not because of an invasion – its the plan anyway in August 2017. And they will be in the west of the country, not in the cities. Most Belarusians will never see them.
          *Putin doesn’t care what the extreme nationalists in Dwarfstan think, or at least not enough to change fundamental parts of his modus operandi.
          *Of course Merkel won’t stop him. She didn’t stop him in Ukraine either, but he was still stopped.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Whether most Belarusians will see the Dwarfsanian troops or not is irrelevant. They will be THERE, and the Belarusians will KNOW they are there.

  • Dirk Smith
  • Yoshua

    Belarus can no longer pay for oil and gas from Russia and Russia stoped the flow.

    Belarus will turn into another failed state like Ukraine. A pro Russian rebellion will be created and armed by Russia to prevent Belarus from joining the west.

    Ukraine and Belarus will do as war torn buffer zones against the west. Russia doesn’t care about anything except the security of Russia.

    Crimea is of course part of Russia and that is why they annexed it… and because of its strategic importance.

    The world is sinking deeper into chaos by the day and there is nothing to stop the process.

    • Alex George

      Crimea is not part of Russia. Russia has no rights to it and its theft is not recognised by other countries (except for other pariah nations like North Korea, ha ha).

      Ukraine is not a failed state, but Russia is on its way to becoming one. Nor is Ukraine a “war torn buffer zone” – Russia’s attempt to do that failed, as its military was not good enough.

      Belarus knows that Russia has been ripping it off with inflated gas prices for years. Wisely, it is starting to develop other sources of energy.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        It’s more accurate to say that Pedo Putolini’s military is no longer good enough. Had the dwarf sent in his troops en masse in March or April 2014 he could have taken the so-called Novorossiya relatively easily, though not without suffering losses. The Ukrainian army was poorly equipped and poorly trained at the time and no match for the dwarf’s army. Now, it’s far too late. The Ukrainian army is now far better equipped, better trained with its units being brought up to NATO standards by instructors from the US, UK, Canada and Poland. There is also a significant reserve of conscripts shoud the dwarf try any really funny stuff. His losses would be prohibitive if he tried to take the so-called Novorossiya now.
        Igor Girkin admitted at the end of 2015 that Dwarfstan’s army can no longer beat the Ukrainian army. “The dwarf has missed the bus”, to paraphrase Chamberlain- but with far more justification.