Which presidential candidate will liberate Belarus?

Every election in Belarus is held under the banner of the change of power. Lukashenko’s dictatorship must be stopped by a strong leader, who will take his place as the new president. This text is our view on who or what can rid Belarus of the dictatorship.

At the moment, only Tikhanovsky can stand against Lukashenko out of all the candidates. Not because she’s a professional politician and can hold a blow in the political arena, but in spite of it. The uncertainty and sincerity of Tikhanovskaya during her speeches makes her “one of us” – ordinary people who have never been in politics. Her speeches very often appeal to the personal experience of each of us with the Belarusian state. And believe me, everyone has enough of that experience.

In many cases, Tikhanovskaya keeps her distance from global politics. That makes her campaign relatively easy to understand. Choose me and get a fair election – the simplest election campaign that has ever been in Belarus. Candidates’ rallies very often spill over into people’s assemblies, where among many anarchist activists call for self-organization and independence of society from the state.

There is no doubt about such positive points. So Tikhanowskaya is the savior of the Belarusian people. Is that right?

Not so much.

Indeed, Tikhanovskaya’s campaign has become a unifying factor for many people in the country. However, the main energy in the campaign is not some certain strong figures, but rather a popular grassroots movement. Simple workers and students unite to fight against Lukashenko and liberate the country from dictatorship. Numerous meetings in regional cities were held without Tikhanovskaya at all, which did not stop locals from actively participating in these very meetings.

The Republic of Belarus as a state has existed for less than 30 years, 26 of which are authoritarian. Attempts to develop representative democracy in the region were crushed on the cliffs of the dictatorship. We do not believe that there is a good politician who will remain so despite all the power received after the elections. The presidential republic presents the head of state with enormous powers. These very powers will sooner or later lead to the abuse of power.

Authoritarian tendencies exist not only in our country. The western countries, beloved by the Belarusian opposition, are in constant struggle against these very tendencies, in which authoritarianism has been gaining strength over the past few years. In the West, the authoritarian state is opposed by grassroots initiatives that in various ways try to keep power within society and prevent politicians from slipping down to totalitarianism.

Dictatorship in Belarus exists not only in Lukashenka’s head. The entire state apparatus of the republic was built to adapt this form of government. Someone can come to Lukashenko’s place and honestly promise to reform the institutions of power, but history shows that such reforms are rarely successful: among many other factors initiatives launched from above support the same dynamics of power – from top to bottom.

Anarchists have long been talking about the need to decentralize power in order to limit access to this very power for career politicians. If political and economic decisions are made at the local level, it becomes much more difficult to make people accept the plans sent to them from the “center”.

Thus, many anarchists advocate the complete dismantling of the state bureaucracy. Its place should be taken by local councils that make economic and political decisions concerning their region. Thus, Minsk will not be able to decide what should happen in Brest.

There will come a time when city dwellers will take part in rallies to discuss certain economic and social transformations, instead of rallies to discuss candidates promising these transformations. The changes in society will be in the hands of every citizen of the country, not the political elite living in the Drozdy[1]. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, only you and I can get Belarus rid of the dictatorship. And where Lukashenko’s regime falls, the struggle against the dictatorship will only begin.

Alexey Stoev

1: District for top governmental politicians in Minsk.

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