Belarus protests go on despite cold, pandemic and risk of jail

Published on February 7, 2021 by

It’s been six months since the disputed presidential election in Belarus led to mass protest on the streets of the capital Minsk and many other parts of the former Soviet republic. Official results gave long-term president Alexander Lukashenko yet another landslide victory. The protests that followed ended in repression and arrests. Now, with the pandemic still raging and one of the coldest winters in recent years, protest is still going on in Belarus, but in a rather different way:
It’s 9 pm here in Minsk and that means – at least in this part of town – that it’s time for many locals to protest. On their balconies. Something they do night after night.
Waving flags, flashing their mobile phone torches and chanting, really making their presence felt.
Long live Belarus, every day and Lukashenko behind bars – those are just some of the chants heard.
Almost six months on from Belarus’ rigged election and the chants are still the same as they were at the very first protests back in the summer after that rigged election.
Except there’s a difference. Where once hundreds of thousands of protesters once crowded the center of Minsk, now the government crackdown means protesters are forced to stick to their own neighborhoods if they’re to have any hope of avoiding arrest.
After more than a quarter of a century in office Alexander Lukashenko is in no hurry to give up power. More and more it seems like he thinks he can just sit this out – jailing or exiling his main political opponents and waiting for the protests to fizzle out.
If the people in this part of town are anything to go by, they definitely don’t want to prove him right – if they can stay out of jail that is. Because even demonstrating on your own balcony is something that is far from safe in Minsk right now, with sentences ranging from a month to several years in jail being handed out to protesters in Belarusian courts right now. This really is a situation where making your voice felt, speaking out is something that can cost you very dear.

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