Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 August 2020

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus

Opposition protest in Minsk, Belarus August 2020

Opposition protest in Minsk, Belarus August 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Edmund Schluessel, Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto (CWI in Finland)

Unprecedented numbers have been out on protests across Belarus, with reports of 200,000 demonstrating in the capital Minsk on Sunday 16 August.

Mass strikes have continued at major workplaces, like Belarus Potash, and the truck manufacturer, BelAz.

These workers have been joined by journalists from the Belarusian state media declaring they are unwilling to continue lying on behalf of the regime.

There have been reports of increasing numbers of police and other state forces resigning, and making public their refusal to obey orders to attack demonstrators.

The mass protests and strikes were sparked by President Aleksandr Lukashenko declaring himself the winner over Sviatlana Tikhonovskaya in a presidential vote widely considered as being totally rigged.

This has come in the context of a failing economy and collapsing confidence in Lukashenko's thirty-year-old regime.

There has been terrible repression, with protestors beaten, arrested, and hauled away by OMON special police, held for a few days and then released.

There have been deaths. Yet, despite this, the mass demonstrations have taken on a 'carnival' atmosphere.

So many strikers and demonstrators say "fear has gone". As happened in Tunisia and Egypt during the 'Arab Spring', this state brutality can arouse yet more anger.

While rumours abound that Lukashenko is preparing to seek asylum in Russia, rumours also circulate of an intervention by Russian troops.

However, the scale of the popular uprising makes any such intervention much riskier for Vladimir Putin, potentially inflaming the mass protests against Putin himself developing in Russia.

Tikhonovskaya's immediate demand for a rerun of the election could gain popularity. While a simple rerun would only pit pro-capitalist candidates against one another, Lukashenko being forced into granting that concession would be a concrete symbolic victory for workers that could fan the flames of a full-scale revolution.

Widely acclaimed as the winning candidate, Tikhanovskaya, who has fled to Lithuania following gruesome threats to her children and her imprisoned husband, initially called on protesters to go home in the face of brutal police attacks.

But as the demonstrations have swollen into what appears to be an unstoppable force, her running mate, Maria Kolesnikova, holds out hope of Tikhanovskaya being brought back to occupy the presidency.

Russian state media has taken the attitude that Lukashenko's departure is a matter of time. Capitalist bosses in the EU regard Belarus in the same manner in which they preyed upon Ukraine - as another business 'opportunity'.

The country has resources they can exploit, including cheap labour. European powers, the US, and China, all have an interest in what happens in this geopolitically important state.

Without a socialist alternative emerging from the mass movement the country risks becoming a pawn in the struggles between the larger economic powers.

These are crucial days for the Belarusian working class in getting rid of the rule of a dictator and of the oligarchs who have acquired state industries to accumulate profit for themselves.

Nearly 50% of Belorusian industry is still in state hands, but control should be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats by workers in the industries.

There should be no illusions that privatisation would lead to more efficient, better-paying industry.

The resignations from the police and state security forces have, so far, been individual acts, weakening the state but not signifying a situation of dual power, from which the working class could take over running society.

But as workers put their stamp on events, through bringing the country to a halt and winning over the middle layers in society, many of whom are already actively involved in protests, they will need democratically elected workplace and neighbourhood committees to link up locally, regionally and nationally.

These workers' 'councils' could be transformed from being instruments for conducting the struggle into the democratically elected bodies for implementing workers' majority rule.

A revolutionary constituent assembly would be the best way of drawing up a new way of running society with democratically elected representatives and proposals coming from political representatives of workers themselves.

A full programme of democratic rights, along with the nationalisation of all large private industry under a democratically controlled plan of production, distribution and exchange is necessary.

Immediately, what is needed is a fighting organisation, a party of workers and a leadership with a revolutionary socialist outlook to coordinate the present mass movement.

This would advocate representatives of committees and councils across Belarus through which workers could set themselves the task of arranging a defence force against Lukashenko's OMON and other state forces sent against them.

The fight for a coordinated, independent, socialist answer to the crisis of Belarusian capitalism should be accompanied by an appeal to the workers of Russia and elsewhere to follow their example and link up their struggles.

The bravery of Belarusians in taking to the streets and downing tools cannot be doubted. All those who see it will urge: "Trust that bravery; trust the power. Take the next step towards revolution!"

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 19 August 2020:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Students 2 : 0 Tories - Protests work!

Student protests force government retreat

"As a working-class student, I already faced struggles"

Tory track and trace failure

Tory planning deregulation: a charter for building profitable slums

NHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!

International socialist news and analysis

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus

Leon Trotsky

80th anniversary of Leon Trotsky's assassination

Yorkshire: Celebrating the life and ideas of Leon Trotsky


September school return must be safe for all workers and students

NHS pay

NHS pay: unions must take fight to U-turn Tories

Socialist history

75 years since the publication of Animal Farm: From 'two legs bad' to 'two legs better'

Workplace news and analysis

300 Covid cases at Northampton food plant - management to blame, not the workers!

PCS union: Vote Yes in DWP ballot! Reject longer opening hours

Support the Tower Hamlets council workers, vote for Hugo Pierre!

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Black Lives Matter: this generation is willing to stand up and fight

We can't take any more cuts

Nottingham: oppose the far right and attempts to divide us

Your donations help us campaign

Leeds: Little London residents are celebrating

To push change we need to be organised - why we joined the Socialist Party

Sheffield: Support Sue

Brighton: Another luxury development

The Socialist: back to weekly soon


Home   |   The Socialist 19 August 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleMass protests in Russia against Putin regime

triangleBelarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

triangleBelarus: movement developing against regime


triangleStrikes are how to fight for state education

triangleOvercrowded Little Ilford School strikes against more expansion

triangleOptare workers strike over pay broken 'promise'

triangleGermany: "Heroes" strike to demand a pay rise


triangleWorcester: Kill the Bill

triangleCardiff: Hundreds protest to free Siyanda

triangleUS cops shoot dead another black man


triangleFilm Review: Dear Comrades!

triangle'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave





Brazil: Bolsonaro regime plunges into a deeper crisis



Myanmar: workers brave brutal military crackdown


Socialist women

Inspirational International Women's Day online rally



Historic union battle at Alabama warehouse



10 years ago - the Fukushima nuclear disaster: "We came close to losing northern Japan"



Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!



Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle


Democratic Socialist Movement

Nigeria: Eyewitness report by arrested Democratic Socialist Movement organiser



Turkey: Bogaziçi university students protest appointment of government loyalist as rector



Myanmar coup - For a workers-led struggle for democracy and socialism!



Covid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic



Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime



How should socialists respond to the 6 January attacks on Capitol Hill?



US in crisis - need for a mass workers' party and socialist programme



Right populism after Trump

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021