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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Order restored in Minsk

by New Worker correspondent

BELARUSIAN police and security forces have restored order in the capital, Minsk, following mass protests that rapidly descended into violence following presidential elections which the opposition claimed was rigged. But monitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the forum that represents most of the former Soviet republics including Russia, said the election was “open, competitive and ensured the free expression of the will of citizens of Belarus”.

Last weekend Alexander Lukashenko, the long-standing leader of the former Soviet republic, won a landslide victory with over 80 per cent of the popular vote. But reactionary opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who came a poor second with just over 10 per cent, says she has the support of over 70 per cent of the electorate. A further six per cent of voters chose the “against all candidates” option and the election turnout was 84.23 per cent. Tikhanovskaya has now fled to Lithuania to avoid what she said was imminent arrest.

Sergei Lebedev, the head of the CIS observation mission at Belarus’ presidential election, told reporters, that: “The CIS mission has not registered any facts that could call the legitimacy of the presidential election into question. The CIS mission finds that the 9th August presidential election was conducted in compliance with the Constitution and the Electoral Code of Belarus. The election was open, competitive and ensured the free expression of the will of citizens of Belarus.”

He said there were some minor “traditional” violations. “There were several incidents when a family voted together, when a husband and a wife entered the booth together. But those were isolated cases. There were also several complaints from local observers that they had a poor sight of the ballot boxes. These isolated violations were insignificant. The CIS observers believe that these isolated violations were neither systemic nor commonplace and did not have an impact on the voting results,” Sergei Lebedev said.

Since coming to power in 1994, Lukashenko has worked to preserve most of the old Soviet system in Belarus. Belarus has the highest per capita income amongst the former Soviet republics, a growing economy and state-guaranteed services. Lukashenko was supported by the Belarus communist party; and the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, along with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping of People’s China, have all congratulated Alexander Lukashenko on his victory.

As soon as the results were declared anti-government demonstrators took to the streets of the capital to hurl petrol bombs at the police and erect barricades across the main thoroughfares. A network of social media accounts, many of them based outside Belarus, like Poland and the Baltic states, had urged on the rioters claiming the Lukashenko government was on the brink of collapse and that Lukashenko had fled the country, whilst spreading fake news about police violence against allegedly peaceful protesters.

But they failed to get the workers of Belarus’ largest steelworks in Zhlobin to walk out in support of the opposition. The police used stun grenades, tear-gas and rubber bullets to quell the violence that was clearly incited by agents of imperialism. Some 5,000 people have been arrested and one protester was killed whilst attempting to throw an unidentified explosive device at law enforcement officers.

The right-wing, fascist and pro-European Union factions are being openly backed by Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism with the support of the reactionary Polish and Ukrainian regimes, and the Belarus government says that the protests were orchestrated by means of telephone calls from Poland, the UK and the Czech Republic. But the attempted regime change à la Ukraine has failed, at least for the time being.