A game of Russian roulette
The war in Ukraine has pushed into the background all the other problems Belarusians are facing. However, it does not mean that they ceased to exist. After all, one can notice the direct relationship between Belarus’ complicity with Russia in the military aggression in Ukraine, and terror, violence, repression against its own people. It is always the case that foreign policy follows directly from domestic policy – it is a direct consequence of it. If the whole content of domestic policy was reduced to a relentless war with its own people, it is not surprising that the Belarusian regime, along with Russian one, did not escape the temptation to fight with its neighbours – Ukrainians. If there is an intention, the reason for this can always be found.
However, it seems that Akela missed his kill and is slowly creeping away from the external war, disavowing his participation in it. Let’s see how the regime will manage to do it. It seems that this time it will be much more difficult to do a flip-flop. Also because it is difficult to mislead the international community at a time when the war with its own people – at least with that part of it represented by workers – is not stopped and is even intensifying.
An eloquent indicator of the situation is the critical situation of independent trade unions. Pressure and repression against our organizations and their members have recently acquired such a dynamic that we have never felt throughout our history. Our colleagues are repeatedly subjected to dismissals, administrative arrests; criminal proceedings are instituted against them. Some communities, many of them used to be large in number, are on the brink of extinction.
A typical example is the fate of the independent trade union of OJSC Naftan. The trade union leader Olga Britikova is being hunted. Olga’s 45-day administrative arrest is coming to an end, and it is far from certain that her persecution will end.
Detentions and searches of other activists of the independent trade union became systematic. The members of the trade union are subjected to such insane pressure that very few of them are left now, although back in the day, the number of the organization exceeded half a thousand members. People not only have to withdraw from the union under the threat of dismissal and punishment, but also to sign papers to confirm their withdrawal. The situation is getting worse. The authorities make trade union members re-sign papers to confirm that they are no longer the members of independent unions. If this is not insanity, then what is it?
The same insanity is taking place at Grodno Azot. Members of the independent union are summoned to a checkpoint where State Security Committee officers confiscate their phones in order to find out the so-called “extremist” resources, with the corresponding threat of punishment. Members of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM), the Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB), and the Belarusian Trade Union of workers of radio and electronic industry (REP) are not neglected by administrations, law enforcement agencies and special services. Pressure with demands to withdraw from organizations, dismissals, administrative penalties and the initiation of criminal cases have become a norm of life.
Two months ago I spent half a day at the office of the State Security Committee. Certainly, during such a time there was a chance to discuss a lot of things with those who called me there. There is no point in describing all the details of the conversation now. I will just say that I took advantage of the occasion to express everything I think about what is happening in the country. I emphasized that by launching a conveyor belt of terror, violence and repression in the country, its organizers literally climbed onto a powder keg. This is not a factory conveyor that can be stopped at any time. It is impossible to stop the launched conveyor belt of terror, it is impossible even to put it on hold without risk for those who took it up. History knows many cases where endless terror and violence ended up in an explosion of popular uprising. The combination of internal war with the people and the participation in foreign war seriously increases the threat of such an explosion. It is a game of Russian roulette.