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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Imperialism: hands off Belarus!

by New Worker correspondent

BELARUSIAN President Alexander Lukashenko has accused the West of sponsoring street protests in support of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after being soundly beaten in the presidential elections on 9th August. The Belarusian leader says he has received a pledge from Russia to provide comprehensive assistance if needed to ensure the security of his country in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, and People’s China has again stressed its opposition any external forces’ attempts to create a split and trigger unrest in Belarus.

This week Svetlana Tikhanovskaya modestly said she was ready to act as a “national leader” in order to prepare a legal framework for a new transparent presidential election that should be recognised by the international community.

The Tikhanovskaya bloc were clearly hoping that street protests and a more robust response from Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism would force Lukashenko out à la Ukraine. But although the Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia, who supported the protesters, has resigned, the Lukashenko government remains solid and support for the opposition appears to be flagging.

The Communist Party of Belarus is holding mass rallies across the country in support of Lukashenko and supporting new rank-and-file union committees to counter the reactionary “National Strike Committee” which is calling for a general strike to bring down the Lukashenko government. More than 90 per cent of Belarusian workers are in trade unions, compared with only eight per cent in Lithuania, where Madame Tikhanovskaya has fled to set up her bogus “government in exile”, and 13 per cent in Poland, whose reactionary regime is also actively supporting the Belarus opposition.

Meanwhile, Belarusian TV has exposed the platform of the united opposition, which includes mass privatisations, the severing of all political and economic co-operation with Russia and switching the country into the orbit of the European Union and NATO. Other elements of the “Emergency Package” include “de-communisation” and “de-sovietisation”, widespread privatisation of industry, an “optimisation” of the country’s health care system and a reduction in the number of hospital beds, the creation of a competitive market in housing and utilities, and the transfer of all hotels, waste processing, street maintenance and funeral services to the private sector. It appears that the official sponsors of this platform are the EU, USAID, the European Fund for Democracy, and George Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation.

Last weekend the Lukashenko government organised a mass rally in Minsk to counter opposition attempts to create a Maidan-style protest in the capital and calls for an anti-government general strike have, so far, failed to halt public transport or production in any of the major plants in the country.

The imperialist media claims that millions support the Belarus opposition. But one Russian blogger, who’s been sharing aerial images of Minsk’s streets on his Twitter page, says there’s no question of millions or even hundreds of thousands of anti-Lukashenko protesters on the streets. “People are yelling that all of Minsk came out. Citizens, I have been filming mass actions using a drone for 10 years now. For the two-million-strong city of Minsk, this is nothing at all. There aren’t even 5,000 of them.”

“The social and political situation in the country remains tense despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the country continues working. We see that. As I said yesterday, we cannot feel complacent. Those who want to lull us will not succeed,” Alexander Lukashenko said during an enlarged meeting of the Belarus Security Council on Wednesday.

Threats against families of servicemen, police officers, government officials and journalists are a matter of major concern. “There are even attacks on members of the government…we are also concerned with threats and attacks on workers of factories and plants, heads of enterprises. Every day they have to go through a corridor of aggressive crowds that gather outside factories. It is like the Gestapo. I want to express my gratitude to workers and I ask them to stand tall. You, workers, are the bosses of these factories. We will deal with the protesters who meet you at the entrance,” the Belarusian leader said.