Belarus: people’s response to the tax on “parasitism”


Notes on protests

  1. The social protests are not connected to political protests. They are developing according to their own logic, and politicians just appear on the crest of the wave as foam.
  2. Opposition’s and neutral media live in different realities then common people. Despite the high attendance of the Charter97 (main website of opposotion), their influence turned out to be minimal.
  3. Comments on the websites don’t  (and can’t) reflect the real moods in the society. People of different social groups use the Internet at different depth. Also, on the side of the authorities there are big amount of “trolls”. Site administrators are encouraged by some, and do not allow other comments based on political preferences or fear of criminal responsibility.
  4. So-called “moderate opposition” media, which are controlled by the authorities, proved to be more loyal to anarchists than the “radical” opposition, which began to remove the word “anarchist” from comments and news. On the contrary, controlled media outlet flattery to the anarchists, tried in every possible way to give self-confidence and a sense of significance.
  5. Participation in the protests became possible due to inaction of the cops. Subsequent detentions showed that for cops it is not difficult to neutralize anarchists and active protesters when and where they want.
  6. Announced demonstration on March 25th became a symbol on which everyone focused. But already on March 18th-19th (maybe even earlier) it became obvious from the dynamics of the interim actions that the protest went down. Anarchists could not or didn’t want to understand this.
  7. People quickly gave up from the concession of authority. But people achieved their goal, the execution of the tax was stopped. Nevertheless, the authorities suffered serious image losses, the people got strong dislike for Lukashenko, to restore the former trust of the population with falling economy is practically unreal.
  8. There is no need for “provocations”, authority act exactly the same as if there were real provocations. But if the office of the tax department in Gomel was set on fire earlier then repressions, everyone would blame anarchists in provoking repressions.
  9. The authorities started a big anti-anarchist PR campaign, releasing a number of accusatory films on television and articles in pro-government newspapers. This propaganda declared anarchists as a national threat. But at the last moment the authorities took out of their sleeves a map of the long-forgotten “White Legion” (far-right organisation from 90-th ). What made the rulers suddenly change their previous version?
  10. As soon as the wave of web popularity of anarchists has passed, nothing has left in the media. However, the image of anarchists among the people improved. Instant increase in the number of anarchists (as the right-wingers on the Maidan) didn’t happen, the ideas of ​​anarchism haven’t become widely known. More precisely it will be possible to say after the passage of time. But, by analogy with the protests in Russia in 2012, the remarkable participation of anarchists proved to be a milestone media bubble. And a year later the movement fell apart.
  11. The reaction on anarcho-slogans and action in Brest, as well as opinions on the streets, showed that the people are much more pro-anarchist than we got habit to think. The idea of kicking out all officials has a broad sympathy. The slogans of the most radical oppositionists sound too modest.
  12. It is demanded propaganda by word and deed, aimed at the people, not on the media. The reaction of people clearly proves that for common  people ideas of anarchism are potentially attractive.
  13. After repression, public opinion will positively take violence against the authorities. Some openly called for sabotage, as well as revenge against the cops.
  14. Belarus is a high-pressure boiler in which a lot of tension has accumulated, mass protests are coming.

June 2017