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December 10 – December 16, 2018
Society and political parties

Civic activists seek to initiate a referendum in the Brest region; the discussion about the possible change of political power through public protests has resumed

The situation has not changed
Civic activists seek to initiate a referendum in the Brest region; the discussion about the possible change of political power through public protests has resumed

Activists in Brest continued attempts to stop the construction of a battery plant, this time through a local referendum. Tell The Truth held the Minsk Region Development Forum, the BCD further held local campaigns in the regions, For Freedom re-elected its leadership, the UCP continued to fight for Krasulina, the BNC resumed the rhetoric of confrontation and promoted the holding of the ‘Square’ [Ploshcha, Maidan].

In Brest, activists protesting against the construction of a battery plant announced an attempt to hold a local referendum. Protests have been ongoing for almost a year and have not subsided. Apparently, the local population is strongly discontent with the local authorities’ actions and with the private investor who is finishing the construction.

Holding a referendum would require significant efforts and resources. Moreover, in the case activists succeed in their attempt for a local referendum, they would create a precedent. So far, activists were unable to stop the construction, despite numerous attempts and various approaches. However, the authorities were forced to engage in a dialogue with the protesters. For instance, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Khudyk met with activists protesting against the construction of a battery factory near Brest.

Protests in Kurapaty continued, as well as repressions against activists and independent media. For instance, protest leader Sevyarynets and activist Aniankov were handed heavy fines. However, despite the financial persecution and a terrible weather, protesters are not going to abandon their standoff near Kurapaty.

Tell The Truth has opened a hotline providing consultations about the effects of the decree on social dependents and held the Regional Development Forum of the Minsk region, which was attended by an MP. In 2018, Tell The Truth held six Forums, one in each region, bringing together over 700 participants. As a follow-up, Tell The Truth has formulated and submitted proposals on regional development to the local authorities.

Local BCD leaders continued to campaign in the regions. The UCP launched an international campaign of solidarity due to the authorities’ pressure on the party. For example, some Lithuanian MPs made an official statement in support for USP press secretary Krasulina.

On December 15th, 2018, For Freedom movement re-elected Yury Gubarevich as its chairman, and Ales Mikhalevich, the ex-presidential candidate of 2010 having extensive political and managerial experience, as deputy head of the organization.

Amid increased tension, public discontent with the authorities’ and reduced impact of events in Ukraine on public opinion, some opposition politicians as likely to resume and enhance confrontational rhetoric. Hence, on election day the idea of a power change through street pressure on the Belarusian authorities is likely to reappear on the agenda.

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