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March 24, 2006
Lukashenko Busts Up The Demonstrations

Belarus president Aleksander Lukashenko sent the police to break up the demonstrations that erupted in Minsk after the rigged election that kept Lukashenko in office as Europe's last dictator. The move apparently halted a protest that had lost enough steam to make it vulnerable to such an action:

Police stormed the opposition tent camp in the Belarusian capital Minsk early Friday morning, arresting scores of demonstrators who had spent a fourth night in a central square to protest President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in a disputed election.

The arrests came after a half dozen large police buses and 75 helmeted riot police with clubs pulled up to Oktyabrskaya Square in central Minsk about 3 a.m.

The police stood around for a few minutes and then barged into the tent camp filled with protesters.

By this time, the protestors had dwindled down to less than 300, according to the AP, all of which found themselves under arrest earlier this morning. The numbers descended to that level thanks to the odd strategy formulated by Lukashenko's opposition, which asked the thousands who had assembled by Sunday in Minsk to go home and wait a week to renew the protest.

The momentum died on the attempt at a "color revolution" akin to Ukraine's effort from a year ago. Ukraine's opposition maintained its demonstrations, and as the entrenched power structure revealed itself incapable of stopping it, the protestors continued to grow in number until a new election was called. The importance of peaceful and consistent protest is important; when enough people assemble to demand change, tyrants have only two choices, neither of which they would select under any other circumstances. The first is to use overwhelming force in front of the cameras of the Western nations, and the other is to accede to the demands of democracy.

The Belarussian opposition let Lukashenko off the hook. By reducing the protests, they killed the enthusiasm for joining them. They also left an opening for Lukashenko to use reasonable force to bring the demonstration to an end without looking like a brutal dictator. Instead of facing tens of thousands of entrenched and joyous demonstrators, they rounded up a couple of hundred isolated and ineffective, though brave, people in a standard raid.

The opposition still plans to hold a rally tomorrow. I don't think they'll pull it off now. They've made it clear that the opposition does not have the stomach for a truly transformative show of popular unrest.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 24, 2006 7:02 AM

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» Breaking: Tent City Stormed - Publius Pundit from The Seven Realms
See also: Lukashenko Busts Up the Demonstrations - Ed Whelan, Captain’s Quarters ... [Read More]

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» The Knucklehead of the Day award from The Florida Masochist
Today's winner is the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko [Read More]

Tracked on March 26, 2006 11:57 AM


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