22 January 2021, Friday, 17:45
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Political Scientist: Protesters in Belarus Should Demand Economic Sanctions

Political Scientist: Protesters in Belarus Should Demand Economic Sanctions

We need to recognize this truth and unite around it.

Judging by Belarusian friends' mood, many have entered a period of reflection, reflection after several months of overactiveness, Russian political scientist Grigory Melamedov writes for Echo of Moscow.

The situation is psychologically difficult. Everyone knows that the protests must continue. Moreover, the feeling of outrage is growing every day. And at the same time, there was a feeling that it would not be possible to achieve victory by protests alone. Probably, it is necessary to bring the comprehension to the end before giving recipes for further actions. Let's try.

Dictatorial states perform two kinds of functions: normal and repressive. When all is calm, normal activities seem to prevail - to heal, teach, manage the economy, maintain order in the conventional sense. And repressive functions seem to be secondary, so they are not visible to the bulk of people.

But now a critical situation comes - not even elections yet, but the first wave of coronavirus. And it turns out that even medicine is part of a repressive propaganda machine. First of all, the dictator requires it to lie and manipulate statistics and only secondarily to heal.

In August, big protests and big repressions begin in Belarus. And people already one hundred percent understand that punitive functions are a priority for the state. In all spheres, in all institutions - in schools and in the field of housing and communal services, even in sports and theater - employees are required to participate in repression, and their direct responsibilities are pushed further and further. Those who do not agree to accept such rules themselves become objects of repression, and therefore the protest grows, and its suppression intensifies.

It is understandable how citizens react to this. What is more important is what happens to the state. First, there is not enough money to carry out "normal" duties. Secondly, it is in normal spheres that theft intensifies, and qualified personnel are forced to leave. That is, all bodies, except for the repressive ones, begin to die off. No matter how much the Belarusians organize themselves, they cannot take on all the duties that the state ceases to fulfill. (They cannot, for example, cure themselves of the virus). Hence, there is a growth of indignation, but at the same time, fatigue. Typical "road to Calvary."

This also hits the bureaucratic apparatus: if everything is decided by a stick, if civil bureaucrats are replaced by security officials, then even the apparatus begins to die. Ideally, a point should come when the authorities are only concerned with repression. For everything else, it has no money, no personnel, no desire.

But there are two problems. The first is how to live at such a time? The second - the aforementioned point should come "ideally," but it is not known when it will come in practice. This is the difference between real-life and mathematical models.

The average Lukashenka official also has a problem: maybe he already wants to go over to the side of the people, but what does this mean in practice? If a soldier moves from one army to another in a war, then he is put in the ranks, he is fed, he is given understandable commands. And in this situation? It's unclear. If the arrested politicians were free, the exiled leaders would return from emigration - then it would be clear who to go to, to whom to surrender and offer their services. But political prisoners cannot free themselves, and the deported freedom fighters cannot return; it does not depend on them.

In general, there is a growing feeling that protests are not enough. They are undermining the repressive state, but they cannot deliver the final blow. Such a blow must be struck by someone else or something else. Embargo. Biden. European Union. A kamikaze soldier from the guard, although this is unlikely. (To some extent, even Putin, and this is completely unpleasant). For the protesters, this situation is a little offensive, and it can even demotivate. And politicians sent to prisons and pushed abroad may be demotivated because it is difficult for them to direct a protest and set a plan for it.

It seems to me that this is the essence of today's reflections on how to be and what to do. It's a difficult moment, but all serious revolutions go through it. And the Belarusian revolution is a serious one. You don't really think it comes down to the resignation of one person.

How to solve the problem? The exact answer will come with time, but now it is clear where to look for it. Coordination is needed between protesters and politicians who are fighting for economic sanctions, not just an exchange of information, but mutual energetic support, when both wings of the revolution feed each other every day, at every difficult moment and together form the agenda - slogans, tactics, and even jokes on posters.

What hinders this, besides purely technical problems? Disagreements on the question that Lenin once asked, to seize the state or to break the state, get in the way. An integral part of this question is to fight for a complete embargo, or not quite fight and not quite for a complete one.

The correct answer is to break it because Lukashenka's state breaks itself, gradually giving up all functions except repression, propaganda, and confiscation of money from citizens. It is already impossible to force him to heal, give education, and manage the economy normally. Only the punitive machine remains from the state, and what can be done with it, except for breaking?

Apparently, we need to recognize this truth and unite around it. If one cannot do without a decisive blow in the form of sanctions, then the protesters must demand them with the same force as they demand everything else.