Belarus Election and Protests, Live from The Filter^:
Introduction and Links (click here)
Exclusive conversations with people in Minsk (click here)
I had an enthralling evening last night chatting to a few people in Minsk, and there are further protests planned to begin imminently. Milinkevich told supporters last night to go home, go to school/work, and then come out again in the evening. Our sources weren't planning on joining them, so maybe they'll add more comments from their homes.
It's worth pointing out a few differences between what's happening in Belarus and what happened in Kiev. Belarus is far more repressed, and there's a geniune concern that further protests will not be tolerated. Last night was peaceful - i've not heard any accounts of bloodshed - and the police appeared to be smiling. But this isn't a revolution aiming to overthrow Lukashenko, since it's widely acknowledged that he would have won the election if the votes were fair. He is the most popular Presidential candidate in Belarus.
Rather, the demonstrations are for free and fair elections for their own sake, are patriotic, and thereofre more tolerable in the short term. However the reason that they're rigged in the first place is to quench dissent, and suppress opposition, meaning that the protests become more damaging to
Lukashenko the longer they go on.
The turn out tonight will be far lower than last night, and therefore more committed. If it's especially small then there's little threat, and it'll pass. If it's very large, then like last night it's hard to see the police willing to intervene. The concern is if it's somewhere imbetween - large enough to be effective opposition, but small enough to end sharply.
We watch and wait.