Denis Vejas

Protest Belarus Elections: Red on White - Minsk 2020
« Protest

For the past 26 years, the dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko has been a president of Belarus. Over the course of his presidency, he suppressed the opposition by putting them in prison, forcing to exile, and making some people disappear forever without a trace.
There is no freedom of speech, and no right for peaceful demonstrations in Belarus. Instead, people are being dispersed by Special Forces. On August 9th, 2020, another presidential “election” took place. All of Lukashenko’s opponents were either imprisoned on the basis of fabricated allegations, or had to flee the country.
There was was no doubt among the Belarusian people that the election results are going be rigged, and Belarusian people started wearing all kinds of white accents on the clothes, to clearly show who is the majority. White bracelet become the nationwide symbol and a dress-code of resistance. White color on Belarus flag stands for freedom and peace.

In the course of this year's election race, the former dictator Alexander Lukashenko did not allow all his main opponents to run. Sergei Tikhanovsky and Viktor Babariko were arrested, Valery Tsepkalo was not allowed to participate in the elections because of the rejected signatures, and under the threat of arrest, he was forced to leave the country.
However, Lukashenko decided to admit Sergei Tiakhanovsky's wife Svetlana to the elections. An ordinary woman who has never been involved in politics in her life and did not even have experience in public speaking. The authorities thought that she posed no threat, and her participation would help fend off uncomfortable questions from the international community.
The three main opposition parties have gathered under the leadership of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Her main promise, if she is going to be elected, was to free all the political prisoners and to organize a new and fair election where all the candidates will be able to participate.

I arrived in Minsk one week before the elections to document the unfolding events and capture the mood of the country that seemed to be on the verge of revolution.

The invisible tension in the city was rising from day to day. The former dictator was doing everything to spread disinformation and block other parties from public appearances.

Peaceful protests and mass gatherings are only allowed in designated areas of Minsk, and only with permission from a former government. Before the elections, Lukashenko occupied all of these spaces by organizing random events so that the people couldn't gather.

In response, the leader of the united opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya announced that she is going to attend one of the events as a visitor, which resulted in a massive gathering in Kievsky Park in Minsk. Participation in such demonstration could end up in 10 days in jail for any participant, however, as one Belarus friend noted: "It's better 10 days in jail, than another six years with the regime."

According to the pre-election polls, organized by the independent media, only 3 percent of the Belarus population were supporting Lukashenko's regime. As soon as these numbers were announced the 3 % graffiti have started to appear all over the city.
Lukashenko's government, however, gave very different numbers, claiming that his ratings are 79 % instead.
On the day of the elections, there was enough evidence that the results will be fabricated. The users of Telegram were posting photos with already marked bulletins. The independent witnesses were not allowed to conduct the voting process, and later on, appeared the videos were real votes would be burned. The internet on June 9th was shut in all the country, and taking photos of your bulletin was not allowed.
Twenty six years serving Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory, while Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said the vote had been rigged and called on him to give up power.

In a matter of hour after the election results had been announced, thousands of people filled the streets of the country demanding the fair count of their votes.

After this night protests and clashes with police forces have taken over all over the country. The internet was completely shut down so there were moments when it was almost impossible to understand what's going on even on neighboring streets.
The violence of police was unfathomable, and by that, I mean that they was not even a try to solve things peacefully. In the first two days of clashes, 3000 people were arrested and violently harassed by OMON.Black vans were all over the city hunting smaller groups of people, beating them, or shooting with rubber bullets.
The predators in police uniforms would capture random people not to let them link with bigger groups.

Minsk, Belarus 2020
Women March, San Francisco 2020
See More →
Using Format