The opposition remains weak and divided. At a recent gathering in neighboring Lithuania, a frustrated American expert working with the opposition candidates played the Elvis Presley hit with the lyrics "A little less conversation, a little more action please" and told the candidates, "It's going to be the theme song for all of you."
It will also be an uphill battle. The presidential elections next year are expected to be rigged to give Lukashenko a massive majority. "It's not Election Day; it's the day after that's important," says a senior European diplomat. "It's a tossup between Lukashenko staying in forever and a violent overthrow where unpredictably people say they've had enough. [But] there has to be something that is the last straw."
For now, many Belarussians seem to prefer the status quo to the possible alternative, the kind of economic turmoil they have seen befall other former Soviet states. Products here are cheap, the official unemployment rate is low, and the government pays pensions regularly and relatively amply. "Lukashenko has given us a good life," says pensioner Maria Balzevich, 61, who lives in a dilapidated village an hour from the capital. When asked if she misses the Soviet Union, Balzevich looks around her two-room dacha, smiles, and replies, "What do you mean? I still live in the Soviet Union."
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.