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the opposition is rebuilding outside

The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 27 years, has never been so isolated. After a year of massive repression against the uprising triggered by his fraudulent re-election in August 2020, with 80% of the vote, the political crisis has set in for a long time, making any political expression impossible inside the former Soviet republic. Conversely, outside the borders, a myriad of opposition organizations have been set up to wage a bitter struggle against the leader. Gathered in offices, political parties or NGOs, these activists recently exiled in Vilnius, Kiev or Warsaw have a large network of activists. The modes of action vary: call for international sanctions, documentation of the crimes of the regime, creation of alternative media, launch of solidarity funds to support repressed compatriots, organization of boycott campaigns …

“By firing Svetlana Tsikhanovskaïa [chef de file de l’opposition en exil en Lituanie] and the other leaders of the democratic forces, Lukashenko expected these people to disappear abroad ”, laughs Anton Rodnenkov, spokesperson for the Coordination Council, a platform for exchange between the different opposition cells, created in August 2020. Fifty people, members of this council, some of whom are working underground from Belarus, represent different groups professionals (workers, journalists, economists, businessmen, lawyers, etc.). “Now, for the regime today, continues Mr. Rodnenkov, these opposition forces represent a very big problem: they are still supported by society, and society is still waiting for change in the country. “

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A diaspora difficult to quantify

Difficult to quantify this new diaspora having fled the repression. ” It’s very complicated, recognizes Tatsiana Chulitskaya, a political scientist based in Vilnius. Many people left illegally, without declaring themselves. Some left the country via Russia before taking a plane, so they are out of the official accounts… ” Franak Viacorka, special advisor to Svetlana Tsikhanovskaïa, dares, him, an estimate of “300,000” exiles, out of a population of 9.5 million, counting “Those who fled to Russia”.

The organization of these networks has been done over time. In August 2020, when massive protests against the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko shook the country, Svetlana Tsikhanovskaïa, presidential candidate and presumably elected, was arrested and forced into exile. In Vilnius, a few weeks after her arrival, she assembled a team to set up a political office. Very quickly, she became the emblematic figure of the Belarusian democratic movement and set out to meet heads of state around the world.

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