December 16 – December 22, 2019
Society and political parties

The anti-integration coalition has held mass rallies in Minsk; media has revealed new details regarding alleged murders of disappeared Zakharenka and Hanchar

The situation got worse
The anti-integration coalition has held mass rallies in Minsk; media has revealed new details regarding alleged murders of disappeared Zakharenka and Hanchar

Last week, political parties and civil society strengthened the anti-integration coalition by holding several rallies in Minsk and appealed to history, since a media investigation had revealed new details related to alleged murders of politicians, prompting the opposition leaders to recall the events of December 19th, 2010 in the Independence Square (Plošča 2010).

On December 20th and 21st, 2019, mass rallies opposing the integration with Russia were held in Minsk. Previously, rallies were also held on December 7th and 8th. Participants were reducing in number with each rally. At this stage, Statkevich has joined the protests and, accordingly, the broad anti-integration coalition. Hence, only Tell The Truth is staying outside anti-integration coalitions. The protests were covered by all independent media and many bloggers, including the “Country for Living” blog.

On December 16th, Deutsche Welle published an interview with Yuri Garavsky, in which he told how under the leadership of the ex-SOBR head, Pavlichenko, he participated in the killings of ex-Interior Minister Zakharenka, ex-CEC head Hanchar and businessman Krasouski. DW also published an investigation documentary based on the interview. All Belarusian independent media reprinted the interview and provided additional information, verifying the words of ex-SOBR fighter Garavsky, clarifying the details, and referring to new facts. The story of alleged killings of Belarusian politicians in 1999 was in the focus of the media attention entire week.

In addition, the media and bloggers last week revised the meaning and results of protests on December 19th, 2010 after the presidential elections. The Country for Living blog released an hour and a half-log documentary featuring a trip down memory lane by participants of events in the Independence Square, Plošča 2010.

The protests of the late 90s against the integration, the alleged assassinations of Zakharenka and Hanchar and Plošča 2010 have largely determined the development of the opposition to the Lukashenka regime as clearly anti-Russian. The alleged murders of Zakharenka and Hanchar had made the opposition’s dialogue with the authorities impossible for many years, making the opposition itself irreconcilable and significantly raised the cost for former Lukashenka’s officials of joining the opposition. Most participants in Plošča 2010 events referred to their experience on December 19th as extremely traumatic, which ultimately depleted the opposition.

It is highly likely that the opposition, which in 2014-2019 effectively focused on social issues, will resume its anti-Russia, anti-Lukashenka and Plošča rhetoric before the 2020 presidential elections.

Author: Valeriya Kostyugova

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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