"Belarusian" maidan
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Wednesday, 25 December 2013 01:31

On December 6th, police officers stopped a bus on the highway near Minsk. All 53 passengers of the bus were heading to Kiev for Maidan. Due to, in Belarus already well-known reasons (or rather, a comlete lack of them), the bus was held up, the driver lost his license, and the passengers were asked to go to the nearest police department. Passengers decided to get to Kiev in their own ways - through the night snow-covered field, by minibuses and with the help of their friends, who gave them a lift. Some of them had to return to Minsk. But some still reached Kiev.

The adventures of the bus – from initial discussions to the actual trip itself - could be tracked on facebook pages of the activists. This in its turn did not leave anybody indifferent. Some criticized revolutionary “irresponsibility" of fellow-countrymen. Some on the contrary, encouraged by the example, decided to go to Kiev themselves.

 

Who and why goes to Kiev?

Human rights defenders were almost the first to react.

They were encouraged to participate by the infamous crackdown of a student Maidan near St. Michael's Cathedral.

Since that time Belarusian human rights defenders continue to travel to Kiev to work directly on the site as public observers together with their colleagues from Russia, Europe and the CIS.

First of all, this can be explained, naturally, by solidarity, but also by experience.

Exactly this kind of support was provided by human rights defenders from Russia and the Ukraine to Belarusians during the events of the crackdown of Ploshchadz on December 19th, 2010.

The representatives of human rights community went to Minsk and supported the activists during the post-election repressions.

Political activists also did not stay behind. Some of them, free from party affairs and decisions, have gone to Ukraine since the early days of protests.

The Young Front has been at the forefront. It, eventually, even created a real Belarusian "headquarters" in the building of the Kiev mayor's office. The objective of this headquarters was to coordinate Belarusian activists in Kiev.

The following politicians have been to Maidan in order to show their support: Yuras Hubarevich (Movement "For Freedom"), Alexey Yanukevich (BPF Party) and Vladimir Neklayev (civil campaign "Tell the Truth").

The most constant, however, in the Maidan is the "delegation" of Belarusian media. Probably, only the state media still do not react and seem to have taken a break in the boradcasting of the events. Almost all independent media have sent correspondents to the scene: from the largest Internet portal tut.by to usually apolitical "Komsomolskaya Pravda".

 

We write "Ukraine" - but we think "Belarus".

In Minsk everybody, including opposition, civil society, and the government, have watched all the steps made by the Ukraine on the way to Association Agreement. 

But until the very moment the negotiations stopped, in Minsk, all the sides had rather discussed a further conduct of Belarus itself. By and large, analysts agreed that the signing by the Ukraine of Association Agreement would allow Lukashenka to remain a single "favorite” junior partner of Moscow in the western direction.

However, the behavior of the Minister Mackay (Belarusian MFA) at the Vilnius summit indicated that Lukashenka was rather prepared for Ukrainian weakness. As a result, unlike confused Yanukovych, Mackey brought to Vilnius a prepared proposal on visa facilitation. And this happened despite the fact that two weeks before a similar proposal by the Polish ambassador in Minsk had been ignored by the authorities.

The main question raised was - what Belarus has gained or lost from the failure of Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union?

 

But soon the question was put in a different way: will there be a Euromaidan in Belarus?

The year 2014 opens for Belarus a season for three elections in a row (2014 - local elections, 2015 – presidential elections, 2016 – parliamentary elections).

All stakeholders are preparing in their own way. Part of the opposition (the campaign "Tell the truth," Movement "For Freedom" and BPF) combines all three upcoming campaigns into one called "People's referendum." Others discuss the nomination process of the common candidate through either "primaries" (UCP) or in the format of an opposition Congress (BCD).

The authorities, in their turn, are also going to set an agenda. And if the words of Lukashenko about maximum democratization of the electoral process did not attract much attention, the unexpected judicial reform may well influence the campaigns of 2014-15-16.

The fact is that the changes carried out in the judicial system (elimination of the military courts and the Supreme Economic Court) suggest appropriate changes to the constitution.

When discussing the reform the officials have repeatedly used the word "referendum".

Given that the country does not have any extra money for an unexpected referendum, it only remains to wait for a mystery called a "judicial referendum." The voters, however, are likely to learn the answer for this very important question directly before the elections.

As for Kiev Maidan, it will not bring change in Belarus, but will definitely give the neighbors a certain push.

As it happened already after the "Orange Revolution" in 2004.

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