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The revolution that froze

The revolution that froze


[Belarus] – Shivje Belarus, Shivje Belarus! ("Long live Belarus!"), Shout the cold protesters. On the morning of Wednesday 22 March, several thousand people stood in October Square, in the center of Minsk. Under the old white and red flag – not the president's green – they are calling for freedom ("svoboda").

For several days they have defied the bitterly cold weather, and several have set up tents in the middle of the square.

The weather has come as a surprise to most Belarusians. On Monday, March 20, the largest Belarusian newspapers wrote that "nature did counter-revolution" the day before, when a heavy snowstorm hit the protesters.

- God supported the Belarusian people, said the re-elected president, Alexander Lukashenko, about the cold weather that had settled over Minsk. – Nowhere in Minsk was there such a strong snowstorm as in October Square, the president said.

The day after, the Belarusian TV

the stations that the temperature dropped to ten minus degrees.

- It is too cold in Belarus to create a revolution, says one of the protesters, Sergei (21) to Ny Tid.

He tries to keep warm by waving the Norwegian flag.

- We just want to live in a normal country, like Norway. The president does not let us breathe, he says.

Despite the cold weather, the demonstration continues. One of those who refuses to leave is Olga (19). She admits that they are not likely to win the match, but she believes it is important that they manage to be heard.

- When we stand here, we feel the same warm feeling as if we had lived in a free country, Olga says.

For most Belarusians, it came as no surprise that the man they call "babka" (little father) won the election. The question was rather how he was going to win. Did he get to choose a "European victory", where he got about 53 percent of the vote, or an "Asian victory", where he got about 90 percent of the vote?

With an 83 percent majority, there is no doubt what he chose.

- We do not need a revolution, we just want to live in peace, says a Belarusian teacher, Maja Kacasevil (56), to Ny Tid. She is not alone.

For the past four weeks, the president has been running a major "stability" campaign. Instead of pictures of the president, large posters of young and old Belarusians have characterized the cityscape. "For a peaceful future" or "For a healthy future" have been the slogans.

This has reverberated in a society still characterized by World War II and the Soviet Union.

the collapse of the union. Only in recent years has the population grown to a population similar to that of the last world war.

- We do not need Western democracy. We need food and a normal life. The president has managed to give that to us, says Kacasevil.

Many had expected Lukashenko to crack down on protesters. For the time being, however, he has left the protesters alone, allegedly under pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nevertheless, the arrests of the opposition have already started, and the protesters claimed to Ny Tid that 400 opposition members had been arrested.

The opposition's main candidate Alexander Milinkevisj again asked the protesters not to give up hope.

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