March 9 – March 15, 2020
Society and political parties

Brest region activists mobilize for the primaries; civil society has restricted public activity due to coronavirus

The situation has not changed
Brest region activists mobilize for the primaries; civil society has restricted public activity due to coronavirus

By Zmicier Kuchlej

Part of the opposition has made further efforts to mobilize local activists within the ongoing primaries campaign, revealing BCD co-chair Pavel Sevyarynets’ unchallenged leadership in local voting. Tension among political organizations has somewhat reduced, however, the possibility of mutual criticism among supporters of a boycott and the participation in the elections has retained. So far, all political initiatives aspire to act within the existing legal framework and avoid confrontation with law enforcers.

Last week, filed trips within the framework of the primaries campaign continued in the Brest region. So far, the organizers have engaged only oppositional activists, who slightly increased their participation. For instance, in a small district center of Biaroza, some 40 people participated in the voting. Activists appear to be supporting harsh criticism of the current leadership and public protests.

BCD co-chair Pavel Sevyarynets has strengthened his position as the primaries’ favorite stretching the lead from Hubarevich (For Freedom) and Kazlou (the United Civic Party). The team of Sevyarynets is carrying out an aggressive campaign to engage current and former political activists (online, phone calls, etc.), which has already brought results. Simultaneously, further mobilization efforts and field trips are likely to be postponed due to the coronavirus situation. Meanwhile, the primaries’ organizers aim to step up their outreach efforts in social media and focus on voting through the Internet.

Supporters of Narodnaya Hramada leader Statkevich have announced their presidential ambitions. Protest leaders aspire to use the signature collection period to organize public campaigns within the electoral legislation and recruit new activists from tough critics of the regime. That said, they do not count on registering their candidate.

The “Fresh Breeze” campaign has occupied the vacant niche among boycott supporters and promotes the idea of a constituent assembly and a reboot of the state. The activity of boycott supporters is only noticeable in some social media segments. Besides, they are also limited by the legal framework in the opportunities to put pressure on the authorities, such as, for example, mobilizing activists to use hotlines with public officials.

In turn, the theme of the threat to Belarus’ independence has been picked up by the All-Belarus Congress for Independence, which is scheduled to be held before mid-May.

The organizers of Freedom Day celebrations in Hrodna have abandoned plans to hold a public event due to the unfavorable epidemiological situation. In Minsk, the concert yet has not been canceled but the organizers have not ruled out such an option.

Civil society and the opposition are appealing to the government to take more serious measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Belarus. For example, Tell The Truth has started a petition urging the authorities to announce quarantine throughout the country.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, civil society and the opposition are likely to reduce their public activity in the coming weeks and increase activity in social media.

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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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