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Has Lukashenko Won?

Summary:
The massive opposition movement that emerged in response to Belarus's fraudulent presidential election last August has adopted a more subtle approach, which might lead outside observers to conclude that it has surrendered. Nothing could be further from the truth. WARSAW – Following his fraudulent re-election victory in August 2020, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko spent more than 100 days suppressing the massive peaceful protests that engulfed his country. But don’t read too much into the silence: far from being cowed, Belarusians are constantly adapting their tactics to wrong-foot the regime. Remove and Ban Trump Now Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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The massive opposition movement that emerged in response to Belarus's fraudulent presidential election last August has adopted a more subtle approach, which might lead outside observers to conclude that it has surrendered. Nothing could be further from the truth.

WARSAW – Following his fraudulent re-election victory in August 2020, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko spent more than 100 days suppressing the massive peaceful protests that engulfed his country. But don’t read too much into the silence: far from being cowed, Belarusians are constantly adapting their tactics to wrong-foot the regime.

After the large-scale marches last fall in Minsk and other cities and towns, demonstrations became more localized and scattered, cropping up in residential areas around the country. Opposition hackers blocked government websites and hijacked state media’s online broadcasts, exposing the regime’s dirty laundry and the brutality meted out by its security services.

When journalists were prevented from reporting, citizen journalists started recording everything, demonstrating to the authorities that they could not hope to cover up official criminality. And, to this day, Belarusians are carrying out low-level sabotage, displaying the opposition flag and related symbols everywhere they can.

Lukashenko remains on the defensive. He has demanded that all anti-regime graffiti be removed and painted over as soon as it appears, creating a futile game of “Whack-a-Mole” for the authorities. He has even ordered that opposition flags embedded beneath the surface of frozen lakes be hacked out.

Ongoing opposition activities have imposed additional costs on a government that cannot afford to bear them. Today’s low oil and potassium fertilizer prices, Lukashenko’s closure of the borders, the exodus of young people (including tech and other highly skilled workers), work-to-rule resistance by factory workers, sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States, and the COVID-19 pandemic have left the regime facing financial ruin. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have

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