Tsikhanouskaya strengthents cooperation with NATO as domestic support for democratic activists’ declines
The Tsikhanouskaya coalition increases contacts with NATO members; however, depoliticization of Belarusian society continues to erode domestic support. Tension within the democratic movement persists, creating a negative narrative in independent media.
The position of ByPOL within the democratic movement has weakened, although forced regime change remains popular with the democratic core. ByPOL announced that it was resuming work following the June crisis, though some members have reformed as BELPOL. Public recriminations and splits among the ex-security forces members undermines trust among the wider audience of advocates for change.
The Coordination Council is attempting to mediate the ByPOL crisis, proposing a working group to hold hearings and restore confidence.
Meanwhile, democrats continue to increase international pressure on the Lukashenka regime. During her visit to Italy, Tsikhanouskaya asked the Italian Senate and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to assist in establishing a tribunal to prosecute against Lukashenka. In response, Italy will downgrade diplomatic representation in Minsk from Ambassador level to temporary attaché, continue issuing visas for Belarusians, and supporting civil society.
Tsikhanouskaya received an invitation to participate in the NATO Public Forum and speak at the upcoming summit. In addition, democratic forces are organising side events to discuss the role of Belarus in transatlantic security and the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus.
While the positions and influence of democratic forces at international level is increasing, there is a risk that support for the Tsikhanouskaya coalition in Belarus may be weakening. The majority of Belarusians have a favourable attitude towards Russia and the CSTO, and there has never been significant support for NATO. According to surveys of prof. Andrei Vardomatski’s Belarusian Analytical Workshop, around 25% of Belarusians support joining the EU, and only 5% would support NATO membership.
International pressure has persuaded the Belarusian regime to meet the demands of civil society and demonstrate the wellbeing of iconic political prisoners. To this end, the pro-government Telegram channel published a video with the ex-candidate to presidential candidate Siarhei Tsikhanouski.
Fundraising initiatives continue to mobilise the diaspora to support political prisoners. In one day, Belarusians collected money for the treatment and rehabilitation of an activist from Biarozauka.
Internal tensions and tendencies toward fragmentation undermine the democratic coalition, narrowing audiences, and exacerbating competition for resources.
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Situation in Belarus