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Amid the Crisis, Belarusian Identity is Changing

EXPERT COMMENT

Protests by Belarusians are not only about removing the Lukashenka regime, they are also uniting and reinventing the nation.

Outsiders watch events unfold in Belarus through the prism of unprecedented protest and repression, as demonstrations have continued every day since 9 August, with around 30,000 people or 0.4 percent of the adult population reportedly detained at some point, more than 900 criminal sentences handed out, and at least five people killed.

New sociological research examining a representative sample of the country’s urban population shows only one-quarter of urban dwellers now see Lukashenka as their president, with the majority opposing his policies and 74 percent calling for violence against protestors must be stopped immediately.

But these figures do not present a complete picture of the deeper changes taking place in Belarus society. The crisis has become a melting pot for Belarusian identity, as never before have so many apparently disparate social groups been so consolidated as a nation.

Students, workers, doctors, entrepreneurs, and many others are united in their demand Lukashenka step down, but also by an elevated level of mutual aid with donations to help victims of repression are at a record high.

Although information on many funds are not yet public, the total sum of donations has almost certainly exceeded the $10 million mark, and the scope of such in-kind support as legal assistance or medical help among Belarusians is impossible to estimate.

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Original article link: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/11/amid-crisis-belarusian-identity-changing

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