Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

19 August 2020

Facebook   Twitter

Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus

Opposition protest in Minsk, Belarus August 2020

Opposition protest in Minsk, Belarus August 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Edmund Schluessel, Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto (CWI in Finland)

Unprecedented numbers have been out on protests across Belarus, with reports of 200,000 demonstrating in the capital Minsk on Sunday 16 August.

Mass strikes have continued at major workplaces, like Belarus Potash, and the truck manufacturer, BelAz.

These workers have been joined by journalists from the Belarusian state media declaring they are unwilling to continue lying on behalf of the regime.

There have been reports of increasing numbers of police and other state forces resigning, and making public their refusal to obey orders to attack demonstrators.

The mass protests and strikes were sparked by President Aleksandr Lukashenko declaring himself the winner over Sviatlana Tikhonovskaya in a presidential vote widely considered as being totally rigged.

This has come in the context of a failing economy and collapsing confidence in Lukashenko's thirty-year-old regime.

There has been terrible repression, with protestors beaten, arrested, and hauled away by OMON special police, held for a few days and then released.

There have been deaths. Yet, despite this, the mass demonstrations have taken on a 'carnival' atmosphere.

So many strikers and demonstrators say "fear has gone". As happened in Tunisia and Egypt during the 'Arab Spring', this state brutality can arouse yet more anger.

While rumours abound that Lukashenko is preparing to seek asylum in Russia, rumours also circulate of an intervention by Russian troops.

However, the scale of the popular uprising makes any such intervention much riskier for Vladimir Putin, potentially inflaming the mass protests against Putin himself developing in Russia.

Tikhonovskaya's immediate demand for a rerun of the election could gain popularity. While a simple rerun would only pit pro-capitalist candidates against one another, Lukashenko being forced into granting that concession would be a concrete symbolic victory for workers that could fan the flames of a full-scale revolution.

Widely acclaimed as the winning candidate, Tikhanovskaya, who has fled to Lithuania following gruesome threats to her children and her imprisoned husband, initially called on protesters to go home in the face of brutal police attacks.

But as the demonstrations have swollen into what appears to be an unstoppable force, her running mate, Maria Kolesnikova, holds out hope of Tikhanovskaya being brought back to occupy the presidency.

Russian state media has taken the attitude that Lukashenko's departure is a matter of time. Capitalist bosses in the EU regard Belarus in the same manner in which they preyed upon Ukraine - as another business 'opportunity'.

The country has resources they can exploit, including cheap labour. European powers, the US, and China, all have an interest in what happens in this geopolitically important state.

Without a socialist alternative emerging from the mass movement the country risks becoming a pawn in the struggles between the larger economic powers.

These are crucial days for the Belarusian working class in getting rid of the rule of a dictator and of the oligarchs who have acquired state industries to accumulate profit for themselves.

Nearly 50% of Belorusian industry is still in state hands, but control should be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats by workers in the industries.

There should be no illusions that privatisation would lead to more efficient, better-paying industry.

The resignations from the police and state security forces have, so far, been individual acts, weakening the state but not signifying a situation of dual power, from which the working class could take over running society.

But as workers put their stamp on events, through bringing the country to a halt and winning over the middle layers in society, many of whom are already actively involved in protests, they will need democratically elected workplace and neighbourhood committees to link up locally, regionally and nationally.

These workers' 'councils' could be transformed from being instruments for conducting the struggle into the democratically elected bodies for implementing workers' majority rule.

A revolutionary constituent assembly would be the best way of drawing up a new way of running society with democratically elected representatives and proposals coming from political representatives of workers themselves.

A full programme of democratic rights, along with the nationalisation of all large private industry under a democratically controlled plan of production, distribution and exchange is necessary.

Immediately, what is needed is a fighting organisation, a party of workers and a leadership with a revolutionary socialist outlook to coordinate the present mass movement.

This would advocate representatives of committees and councils across Belarus through which workers could set themselves the task of arranging a defence force against Lukashenko's OMON and other state forces sent against them.

The fight for a coordinated, independent, socialist answer to the crisis of Belarusian capitalism should be accompanied by an appeal to the workers of Russia and elsewhere to follow their example and link up their struggles.

The bravery of Belarusians in taking to the streets and downing tools cannot be doubted. All those who see it will urge: "Trust that bravery; trust the power. Take the next step towards revolution!"

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 19 August 2020:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Students 2 : 0 Tories - Protests work!

Student protests force government retreat

"As a working-class student, I already faced struggles"

Tory track and trace failure

Tory planning deregulation: a charter for building profitable slums

NHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!


International socialist news and analysis

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus


Leon Trotsky

80th anniversary of Leon Trotsky's assassination

Yorkshire: Celebrating the life and ideas of Leon Trotsky


Education

September school return must be safe for all workers and students


NHS pay

NHS pay: unions must take fight to U-turn Tories


Socialist history

75 years since the publication of Animal Farm: From 'two legs bad' to 'two legs better'


Workplace news and analysis

300 Covid cases at Northampton food plant - management to blame, not the workers!

PCS union: Vote Yes in DWP ballot! Reject longer opening hours

Support the Tower Hamlets council workers, vote for Hugo Pierre!


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Black Lives Matter: this generation is willing to stand up and fight

We can't take any more cuts

Nottingham: oppose the far right and attempts to divide us

Your donations help us campaign

Leeds: Little London residents are celebrating

To push change we need to be organised - why we joined the Socialist Party

Sheffield: Support Sue

Brighton: Another luxury development

The Socialist: back to weekly soon


 

Home   |   The Socialist 19 August 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Belarus:

triangleBelarus refugees - caught between a rock and a hard place

triangleBelarus: Lukashenko's desperate attempt to silence opposition

triangleMass protests in Russia against Putin regime

triangleBelarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

Strikes:

triangleRMT strikes against abolition of night tube train operators

triangleFresh strikes on East Midlands Railway

triangleCollege strikes continue into third week

triangleOaks Park pickets vote for more strikes to defeat bullies

Police:

triangleTories strengthen repressive laws

triangleStriking Scunthorpe steel scaffs up the ante

triangleTV review The Riots 2011: One Week in August

Russia:

triangleSuperpowers' tensions continue to ratchet up

triangleFilm Review: Dear Comrades!

Article dated 19 August 2020

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

MEMBER RESOURCES

Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales

Leaflets

Bulk book orders

New member submission

WHAT'S ON

triangle1 Dec Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: China - 1928 to the 1949 revolution

triangle2 Dec Cardiff East Socialist Party: The Russian Revolution 1917 - what happened?

triangle2 Dec Southampton Socialist Party: A report from the Socialism 2021 event

More...


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1158 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files


Socialism 2021 rally, Saturday 20th November 2021: Our future at stake - What now for the struggle for socialism?

More videos ...

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version