Protests and strikes: Lukashenko under increasing pressure

More and more people have joined the opposition's protests since the election in Belarus a week ago, with around 100,000 demonstrators gathering in Minsk alone on Saturday. Employees at many key state companies have also gone on strike, and several state television journalists have publicly announced their support for the opposition. Will this be enough to topple President Alexander Lukashenko?

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Vedomosti (RU) /

Workers could topple the system

Vedomosti points out that Lukashenko's regular voters are also turning their backs on him:

“The state is trying to lay the blame for the protests on a small social group: hipsters who have come under the influence of propaganda. This is why the protesters are so keen to show social diversity. The strikes in the factories have done the opposition an invaluable service in that they have deprived Lukashenko's backers of their main argument - that the working people are loyal to the system. They can no long count on that. The illusion that the 'ordinary people' would not rebel already led to the fall of Nicholas II and then the Soviet system.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A Solidarność is needed

Rzeczpospolita encourages the opposition to organise itself into fixed structures:

“Anger and protests won't be enough. Young Belarusians must learn their lesson from history. The Polish uprising in the 1980s was institutionalised by the trade union Solidarność, and the strong structure of Solidarność's Citizens' Committee, with Lech Wałęsa, clear leaders and genuine support from the West, enabled it to make tough demands of Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1989. The opposition in Belarus must therefore institutionalise itself. Only then will the nation not only be able to look the dictator in the eye, but also see fear in those eyes.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

The throne has become shaky

The Belarusian president shouldn't count on anyone from Russia rushing to his aid, the Berliner Zeitung comments:

“Lukashenko is considered an insecure partner in Russia too. The Russians take a negative view of his power games with the EU, and he is also said not to have paid his gas bills. The only factor that is in Russia's interest is maintaining a Belarusian buffer zone that remains independent and pro-Russian. ... The demonstrators are protesting for freedom and independence, and leading opposition politicians are cultivating contacts with Russian companies. Lukashenko's cry for help must therefore be seen in strategic terms: he fears the loss of his power. Now he is claiming that Nato is preparing for an attack. And he's also organising counter-demonstrations. All this shows that his throne has become shaky.”

Latvijas Avize (LV) /

No one is interested in Belarus

The opposition has chosen a bad time for its national awakening, laments Latvijas avīze:

“In a way, the Belarusians are unlucky, because the most important events in their country are taking place at a time when the decisive battle for the presidency of the United States is gaining momentum. So the world is much more interested in the vice-presidential candidate presented by Joe Biden last Wednesday than in the unrest in a remote post-Soviet country that has still not shaken off its Soviet legacy and hadn't even tried to change anything about it until now. Like neighbouring Ukraine, which has already organised a whole series of Maidans.”