Most commentators forecasted that the anti-Lukashenka movement would not maintain the impressive momentum that sparked unprecedented protests following the 9 August presidential election. Four months on from the election, as winter looms, the Belarusian people continue to defy the odds through persistent mass action of admirable resilience. It is imperative that progressives and democrats across the EU remain acutely aware of the moral duty to sustain the conversation and raise our academic and political engagement as a proof of solidarity vis-à-vis fellow Europeans fighting against authoritarianism.
The values powering such historic awakening in Belarus align with the backbone of what the EU is said to stand for: democracy, freedom and human rights. Hence, Europeans cannot afford to fall into the trap of self-indulgence, cynicism and complacency at a time when the Belarusian people are in dire need of allyship and support. As long as basic human rights are on the line, the EU’s value-oriented foreign policy should view Belarus as question of utmost priority and interest. To that end, the current dossier takes stock of these last four months of epoch-making action in Belarus.
Despite the enormous media attention that the Eastern European country has attracted over the last months, Belarus’s political system has not occupied a prominent place in the focus of Western scholars over the last decades. It is thus primordial to understand the myriad of drivers that explain the eruption of “real politics” after decades of relative stability. A thorough understanding of the dynamic context in Belarus will allow us to delve into the numerous dilemmas facing both the regime and the opposition movement as well as the possibilities available for EU policy action in the short- and medium-term.