Hooliganism by Belarusian police after opposition try, and fail, to get a (counter!)revolution going.
The Belarusian foreign ministry has said that, contrary to western reports of violence by police and the arrest of the main opposition leader, Alexander Kozulin, for ‘hooliganism’, everything now in Minsk is calm and everyone is happy. The police had only started bashing heads of demonstrators after they had started heading to the detention centre where Alexander Kozulin was being held, apparently.
Wanting to protest an arrest? The Jacobins!
I saw what the police did on the television. Not very pleasant. I have been in those situations quite a few times and, believe me, when the cops start charging at you, with batons beating against their shields, thud, thud, thud, you wish you had brought along a spare pair of trousers. And I would say that the Belarusian riot cops are as nasty as their Parisian counterparts. Very nasty.
President Lukashenka, now ‘elected’ for a third time, is an international pariah – apart from an awkward friendship with Russia. Putin is embarrassed by Lukashenka’s antics, but knowing that Belarus, as it is, couldn’t exist without Russian support, he’s not too bothered.
But Lukashenko does have a few friends. Look at this report by something called the Workers World. Under the headline Belarus beats Bush, they rightly point out all the western help (and interference, in many cases) the opposition has been getting.
Both the U.S. and European governments poured in millions of dollars openly and covertly to defeat Lukashenka. The Feb. 26 New York Times admitted that the Bush Administration was spending $12 million in 2006 to overthrow the Belarus leader. Another $2.2 million was allocated by the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is also trying to topple Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
The European Union awarded $2.4 million to a German company to broadcast hostile radio and television programs into Belarus. The Polish regime set up Radio Racja with similar goals. Though he is an opposition figure in Belarus, Milinkevich was allowed to address the Sejm, the Polish Parliament.
Poland also broadcasts in the Belarusian language on Radio Polonia (the other two broadcast stations mentioned transmit in Russian and then Belarusian – which is slightly missing the point, as one of the opposition’s main demand is for Belarusian to be the nation’s first language and not Russian, as it is now).
But they have got a point. The West wants to export ‘people power’ and another ‘revolution'.
The revolution that wasn't
Ukraine is having an election today and the likely result is a win for the candidate deposed in the Orange Revolution . The first survey since the ballot closed shows the Russian supported Viktor Yanukovych with 33%, ex-orange revolution Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, on 22%, and then the guy someone poisoned to try and get rid of him, and hero of Ukrainian 'people power', Viktor Yushchenko, with a sad 13 percent.
It's only been just over a year since the orange revolution. And it didn't get anywhere. So what sort of ‘revolution’ was that?
The media will start calling the results of a parish election a ‘revolution’ soon. Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia - these were not grass roots movements, Solidarity style - they were revolutions among elites.
Maenwhile, back at Workers World's last hope for proletarian dictatorship - Belarus - they go on to explain Lukashenka’s undoubted (but massively exaggerated) support:
80 percent of industry is still state-owned. That is a good reason why the unemployment rate in Belarus is 1.5 percent, as compared to 18 percent in Poland in 2005, and 48 percent for Black men in New York City in 2003.
All true of course – if you forget that ‘employment’ in those types of countries is quite a flexible term. It could mean you have a job digging holes in the road and then filling them back in again.
And this is where the Workers World article starts getting more than a little silly.
Average wages increased by 24 percent last year. Pensions also went up. The sales tax was cut.
It’s starting to sound like an economic report during the 1970’s in Poland. Belarus, listen to me – it won’t last!
And then, poor old Workers World start frothing at the mouth:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Belarus, along with Cuba, People’s Korea and Zimbabwe, as “outposts of tyranny.” But for workers everywhere Belarus is an outpost of resistance.
Oh, dear. It was all going so well.
Check out Swedish journalist, Tobias Ljungvall on Belarus, blog. He posts every Sunday on Belarus.