Uladzimir Matskevich: The street protests in March may attract more people

Aliaksei Yurych, EuroBelarus Information Service

However, it is unlikely for any spark to cause the fire of revolution in the given circumstances.

According to various estimates the “March of Angry Belarusans”, which was held in Minsk on February 17, brought from 3 to 10 thousand people to the streets. The analogues protest in HomeÍ attracted 2,000-2,500 people, and political actions were also held in Brest, Viciebsk, Hrodna and Mahilioŭ. People protested against the notorious “decree on parasitism.”

Does it enable the discussion about the appearance of a new wave of protests in Belarus?

Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist replied to the question of EuroBelarus Information Service.

— What did make people step over their fear and protest publicly?

— It has been quite a long time since the crackdowns and force methods were used against the protesters. So the fear grew away a bit.

Most of the protesters comprise the traditional electorate of the opposition parties, these people would go to the protests at any time. So I would not exaggerate the strength of this protest.

On the other hand the enthusiasm can make the street protests in March attract more people. I do not believe we should expect a “hot spring”, but there is indeed a rise of some street activity.

— What is the protest potential of the society now?

— If we failed to raise a real wave of protests among the entrepreneurs, then the current development will end just the same.

The authorities have made sure the “Law on Parasitism” is futile, Lukashenko, in fact, did not freeze the document but hinted on a weak possibility that he may revise it after a while. I think that will be the end of it.

— Repeal or revision?

 — Most likely, revision. People who can afford paying this tax have already done so, others knew that the state has no leverage so they haven’t paid and do not intend to do it. But the most vulnerable part of the population suffers. I think the authorities will reconsider the categories covered by the Decree and relieve the tension somehow.

— Is the Lenin's saying “The spark will kindle a flame” inappropriate in this case?

— Someday, perhaps, mass protests will serve as a trigger for some changes in the country.

But we shouldn’t count on it today. Revolutions happen when there are distinct expectations of change in the society. Today most of the angry people expect only local, sometimes cosmetic reforms that do not lead to any fundamental change but relieve tension.

— What is the purpose of the Russian propaganda so actively exploiting the “parasites” protests in Belarus?

— Russian media has been preparing informationally to something, perhaps, to the use of force against Belarus and to political and diplomatic pressure on us for a long while. Therefore they use any excuse. In this sense, the Russian information war seems extremely dangerous to me. Although I do not see any possibility to use it as a trigger for dramatic changes in Belarus.