Has the Belarusian opposition lost?

In Belarus, one opponent of the regime after another is being put on trial. The trial against ex-banker Viktar Babaryka, who was Lukashenka's greatest adversary for a time, started last week. A day later, two reporters were put behind bars over a live stream. And earlier this week a court sentenced young protesters to several years in a labour camp or prison.

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VTimes (RU) /

Massive repression triumphs against lack of strategy

VTimes sees no chance of success for the opposition:

“The absence of a plan of action and lacking persistence - when the state authorities ignored the demands of more than 200,000 demonstrators, they simply dispersed - prevented the advocates of change from even partially achieving their goal. The state authorities, on the other hand, maintained a consistently methodical approach: when they brought the situation under control (not without the help of the Kremlin), Lukashenka began an unprecedented campaign of repression, the aim of which is not simply to spread fear, but terror - in order to minimise the number of those who dare to protest openly.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Russia's war nicely timed for Lukashenka

Lukashenka took advantage of Putin's weakness last year, Rzeczpospolita comments:

“There are rumours that Lukashenka promised the Kremlin a constitutional reform and new elections in the spring. But then the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan reignited, so Moscow had to send all its forces to the Caucasus to maintain its influence in the region and hold Turkey in check. Lukashenka took advantage of the geopolitical turbulence and turned the situation to his advantage. He suppressed protests with truncheons, intimidated workers, tightened laws and all but imposed martial law in the country. And he's postponed the constitutional amendments that he promised Putin indefinitely.”

Gordonua.com (UA) /

People deprived of yet another beacon of hope

The regime is suffocating the country, writes Natalya Radina, editor-in-chief of the Belarusian website charter97.org, in Gordonua.com:

“It's obvious that the system has gone haywire and is desperately trying to shut everyone up and throw them in jail without realising that sooner or later all despotism comes to an end. … The trial against Viktar Babaryka is clearly political. ... For this reason the sessions are taking place behind closed doors and journalists and supporters are being kept away. The tragedy is that yet another presidential candidate is being sidelined. Once again, the Belarusians are being deprived of a leader, a promising politician who could lead the country to normality.”

Népszava (HU) /

Lukashenka can start the countdown

The Belarusian opposition has lost a battle but not the war, Népszava believes:

“When the artist Raman Bandarenka was beaten to death in prison in November, Lukashenka was on the verge of being overthrown. He saw that, and instead of using violence against the masses he resorted to a terribly subtle method: targeted intimidation. ... The only magic bullet that the dictator's opponents can rely on is the strengthening of the organised political opposition and civil society, both of which are currently extremely weak. Lukashenka can start the countdown. Because sooner or later every dictatorship gives birth to the resistance and solidarity needed to overthrow it.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Brussels is not fighting for the country

The EU is letting Belarus down, Rzeczpospolita laments:

“Several opponents of the regime have been murdered, hundreds have been tortured and more than 250 political prisoners are already behind bars. They do not expect the West to help them personally in any way. But they hope that it will at least 'do something', that it will stop the terror at the heart of Europe. The disappointed opposition is calling for the introduction of strict economic sanctions that would hit not only the oligarchs but also the main companies that keep the Lukashenka regime alive. But in practice all the EU has done is this: the head of European foreign policy presented an overview of the 'situation in Belarus' during a meeting on Monday with the foreign ministers of the member states.”