Today the Belarusian strike has become truly nationwide. Workers of every major state-owned enterprise are demanding Lukashenko's resignation, disbanding of OMON, and new free and fair elections. PM Golovchenko is visiting striking MAZ and MTZ, Lukashenko is still in denial pic.twitter.com/ahhXDgCycJ
— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) August 14, 2020
General Strike: Ironically, this wouldn’t have happened if Lukashenko had pursued neoliberal reforms. ~90% of the Belarus economy is state-owned.
Prediction Market: The only prediction market I’m aware of on whether Lukashenko remains President of Belarus (as of Jan 31, 2020) is on Metaculus, it is now at 60% (down from an initial 75-80% until August 13).
General Schizophrenia: Belarus state TV has uncovered a “Minsk protest organizer” with a list of objects that every Western spy needs to carry around with him:
- Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU ID card (complete with card of Stepan Bandera)
- Hand grenades and masks
- Books on firearms, assassination methods
- Polish ID card
- Miniature NATO flag
But before one speculates at the IQ of the audience this spectacle is aimed for, they also claimed that this agent was in touch with “Moscow politologists.” Making him a Russian agent, as well as a NATO one.
Or, more realistically, flinging anything they can in an effort to make something stick. (While reinforcing the point I have been making that Lukashenko is no friend of Russia’s).
Anyhow, while I thought the regime was stabilizing around August 12, it’s clearly on the downslide again now. This doesn’t mean I think Lukashenko is done for. It may well be able to outlast the general strike – the workers need to eat, after all. And the same factors that applied before, continue to apply now, namely the lack of politically influential oligarchs (that can be subject to Western financial pressure), non state-controlled mass media (though the Internet is a major factor), or well-established opposition politicians (Tikhanovskaya, now calling for new elections from Lithuania, is a figurehead for her blogger husband, who is in a jail in Belarus). These factors make the situation incomparable to that in the Ukraine. (And even there, Yanukovych may well have survived had he stuck by his siloviks, instead of stabbing them in the back).
Subsequently, I can’t quite see how a Maidan is to succeed unless the siloviks around Lukashenko themselves defect. But we will see soon enough.