February 26 – March 3, 2024
Society and political parties

Tsikhanouskaya’s Cabinet: A Hundred Years of Emigration?

The situation has not changed
Tsikhanouskaya’s Cabinet: A Hundred Years of Emigration?
Ілюстрацыя: Луіза Рывера

The influence of democratic forces on the domestic political agenda in Belarus is diminishing against the backdrop of a narrowing circle of sympathizers. As a result of harsh four-year repressions, political organizations are abandoning mobilization strategies and participation in political campaigns within the country. This very participation previously allowed for the engagement of activists and influence on domestic events. Democratic forces face the challenge of consolidating sympathizers around a long-term strategy for the national-democratic transformation of Belarus and expanding the circle of supporters within the republic.

The rhetoric of democratic forces towards Lukashenka’s regime becomes more ultimatum-like in response to relentless repressions and the intensification of political discrimination against dissenters. As a result, the circle of sympathizers of political organizations narrows to categorical opponents of the regime, which, in turn, pushes for even more radical statements.

Democratic forces promote an international sanctions agenda with the isolation of Lukashenka’s regime to free political prisoners. The leader of democratic Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, visited Switzerland on a working visit.

Democratic forces maintain effective communication with the West in promoting trends towards the isolation of official Minsk and support for civil society.

The European Union denied legitimacy to the new members of the regime’s representative bodies. The USA, in a special statement by the State Department, condemned the “fictitious parliamentary and local elections of Lukashenka’s regime”.

A representative of Tsikhanouskaya’s Cabinet for social issues, Volha Harbunova, received the International Women of Courage Award.

However, the regime intensifies efforts towards restoring pragmatic relations with the EU. In turn, attention to Belarus from the West decreases against the backdrop of an internal purge of the political space and the absence of political news, apart from the repressive agenda.

In 1919, national democrats created a “government in exile” – the Rada of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR), whose legitimacy was based on the decisions of the All-Belarusian Congress. A little over 100 years later (2022), another massive wave of political emigration founded the United Transitional Cabinet headed by Tsikhanouskaya. The legitimacy of the institutions formed by democratic forces (the Coordination Council, the UTC) was based on the results of the presidential elections (according to the independent platform “Golos“) and was confirmed by the mass protests of Belarusians in 2020, which ultimately led to recognition of Tsikhanouskaya by Western capitals.

However, the democratic forces’ avoidance of participation in domestic political events will continue to reduce the subjectivity of political organizations and influence on the domestic audience. In this situation, Tsikhanouskaya’s UTC may encounter the fate of the Rada of the BNR, especially after the 2025 – the presidential campaign in Belarus. Although another “government in exile” may appear sooner than in a hundred years – the dynamics of socio-political processes in the 21st century have accelerated.

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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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