Belarusian opposition to lead Day of Solidarity

Belarusian anti-government activists will today celebrate a “Day of Solidarity” to protest the results of the August 2020 presidential election.

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Photo: AP Photo/TUT.by

Belarusian anti-government activists will today celebrate a “Day of Solidarity” to protest the results of the August 2020 presidential election.

Organised by opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, today’s demonstrations centre on allegations of election fraud. According to official figures, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won his fifth re-election bid with a vote share of 80%, which protesters have claimed is inflated.

Expect a limited turnout today. While the governments of the EU and the US have backed the protests, demonstrators remain wary of further backlash from the regime. According to December 2020 polling data, only about 45% of Belarusians “completely” or “somewhat” agree with the protests, while 20% of respondents admitted to personally experiencing, or experiencing through family, government violence.

While a high turnout would put more pressure on Lukashenko to resign or implement reforms, and would likely spur further diplomatic support from the EU and US, it could also lead to a greater crackdown. However, in the short- to medium-term, more government violence could backfire and encourage reluctant Belarusians to engage. More than 75% of Belarusians have cited investigations of the government’s repression of dissent as a main demand of the current protesters.

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