Belarus weekend

A hope for democracy in Belarus

Young people want a change

, by Vaida Jazepčikaitė

A hope for democracy in Belarus

Peace, democracy, liberty and equal rights are objectives we generally all aim for. The recent crisis in the world seems to imply that these values are being forgotten all to fast and have become almost unachievable; the war still continues in Iraq, nobody knows when the Middle East crisis will come to an end, the wars for natural resoures go on in Africa. Furthermore, the spring presidential elections in Belarus (March 19th) show that human rights, liberty and democracy are being neglected not only in far away places but in the neighbourhood of the European Union.

On April 8th the “new president” Lukashenka was sworn in for his third mandate. According to him, “Belarus has prepared a substantial background for achieving its long term political and economical goals and just the mono-thinking world society tries to create anarchy and chaos in Belarus. The West is using the principle of “divide et impera” and in order to preserve ourselves the expansion of army and military service will be the priority in the coming years.”

On paper, Belarus seems to have achieved stability and growth that many countries can only dream of. Its economy in 2005 achieved an 8% growth. The government succeeded in lowering inflation over the past several years and in keeping with this policy, Lukashenka re-imposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state’s right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. Furthermore, the rate of unemployed people (officially registered) is just 1.6%. Isn’t that amazing? Huge economic growth, low unemployment rates. It seems that Lukashenka really knows how to deal with the economic issues.

The economic improvements were noticed by the voters in the recent presidential elections in 2006. More than 82% of Belorussians supported the “new president” (as Lukashenka calls himself) - and expect him to lead them into a better future of the country. In fact, Lukashenka should not really have any trouble - every tenth person is a KGB agent, all the media is under the government control, and any foreign opinion, except Russian, is impossible.

Life in Belarus looks pretty and Lukashenka, as believed, will be a perfect president. Moreover, the opposition leader Milinkevich won just 6% of votes. Still several questions arise: if there is such enormous society support, why do people go to the streets? If there is stable economic growth (as the government reports), why do people want change? Why does not the government want foreigners to come and observe the election? Why do the young generations want a new leader?

For those who dream of a free Belarus the time for change is now...

Young people want a CHANGE. They are tired of walking in silence in the streets, they want to see the opportunities in life, they want a NEW BELARUS, and a new political system. They want democracy!

The country has changed after March 2006. The extremely unfair elections, and the various violations encouraged thousands of people, despite the threats of the authorities, to go on the streets of Minsk and to raise their voices in favour of change. Furthermore, the number of Belarussians who are ready to fight for freedom is growing with every day. Along with this, Aleksandr Milinkevich (the opposition leader) grows in the eyes of the public as well as gathering an enormous support from the Western countries.

The president Lukashenka is not happy about the activities of the opposition and his regime is trying to stop the progress of the possible change, to turn back time, to when Belarus was frozen by fear and dictatorship. For those who still dream of a free Belarus however, this is too late. The time for change is now.

Image:

- the concert “Solidarity with Belarus” organised in Warsaw, Poland on March 13th; source Flickr

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