Friday, March 25, 2005

Minsk Demonstration Squashed

Look's like Andrey Klimaw's protest went on with or without permission from the authorities. 1000 protesters was short of Klimaw's original intent of up to 100,000, but sizable enough to draw a reaction from authorities:

About 1,000 pro-democracy protesters tried to gather Friday near the palace of President Alexander Lukashenko, claiming to be emulating the popular uprising in fellow ex-Soviet republic Kyrgyzstan, but they were beaten and dispersed by police in riot gear, and several dozen were arrested.
It took the truncheon-wielding police about two hours to disperse the protesters, who chanted "Down with Lukashenko!" and "Long live Belarus!" A group of 100 or so opposition activists regrouped, only to be pushed away a second time.

The bad news for Lukashenko's opponents is that 1000 protesters just isn't going to get it done. The good news is that this is a rally without an immediate catalyst, and they still managed to get a fair turnout. What has happened in Georgia and Ukraine, and whatever has yet to unfold in Kyrgyzstan will have profound effects upon the aftermath of what will undoubtedly be another rigged "election" in 2006. Europe's last dictator has to be concerned watching what is going on around him and knowing there's no real way out of seeing this all come to a head at some point not too far down the road.


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