Date: 29th August, 2020
Author: Rob Gowland
In Orson Welles’ cinema classic Citizen Kane, newspaper magnate Kane runs for Governor. He has two headlines prepared: one optimistically trumpets, “KANE WINS”. In the event, he loses and has to use the other: “FRAUD AT POLLS”
I was reminded of this by the recent goings on in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus. On 9th August, national elections were held there. The US and NATO-supported the opposition led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Tikhanovskaya had modestly declared that she was ready to act as a “national leader” in order to prepare “a legal framework for a new transparent presidential election” that should be recognised by the international community (by which she meant the US and NATO, not China and Russia).
The Western powers must have thought the opposition they supported were a shoo-in, but the people didn’t buy it. A “pro-democracy” campaign can only work if the people actually feel that they have been denied the eight to choose their government.
When Gorbachev dissolved the Soviet Union, despite a national plebiscite voting not to, Belarus elected to retain its Soviet system of economy and government. It was promptly subjected to a financial attack from the West that saw the country fall victim to hyper inflation. But, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, the country successfully weathered that storm.
Lukashenko is not a Communist but he is a democratically minded patriot. His government is supported by the Communist Party of Belarus. and the country’s industrial development and economy generally are both doing well. Naturally, its NATO neighbours want its government removed!
The Lukashenko government was returned hands down and Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania where the term “Communist Party” is illegal and so is the hammer & sickle. Naturally, she and her supporters are loudly proclaiming fraud at the polls, á la Citizen Kane.
Ever since the end of WW2 and the success of the wave of revolutionary movements that swept Eastern Europe, imperialism has sought to create its own pseudo-revolutionary “popular movements” to confuse and divert the people’s struggle. First seen as an organised movement in the early 1950s in East Germany and most notoriously in Hungary in 1956, these US-sponsored anti-government demonstrations were later a feature of the turmoil in Allende’s Chile. Since then, these bogus revolutionaries, trained and led by operatives of US and other imperialist intelligence agencies, have honed their techniques and polished their skills over the subsequent years to the point where the military coup has largely been superseded in imperialism’s arsenal by the “colour revolution” — just as reactionary but it can be (and is) portrayed to the gullible as an expression of the people’s democratic will!
In reality, overtly fascist regimes have been installed on the back (and under the cover) of these “revolutions”, as in Ukraine for example where very well organised protests in Maidan Square against the elected government included extreme-right “pro-democracy protesters” from as far afield as Chechnya and Israel! The Tikhanovskaya bloc were clearly hoping that street protests and a more robust response from Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism would force Lukashenko out à la Ukraine.
Alert now to how these “popular uprisings” are stage managed, countries that are being targeted by imperialism know they must arouse their people to expose and oppose these counter-revolutionary machinations. Belarusian TV has exposed the platform of the united opposition, which includes mass privatisations, the severing of all political and economic co-operation with Russia and switching the country into the orbit of the European Union and NATO. Other elements of the opposition’s “Emergency Package” include “de-communisation” and “de-sovietisation”, wide-spread privatisation of industry, an “optimisation” [read ‘privatisation”] of the country’s health care system and a reduction in the number of hospital beds, the creation of a “competitive market” in housing (the end of controlled and subsidised rents) and privatised utilities, as well as the transfer of all hotels, waste processing, street maintenance and funeral services to the private sector. It appears that the official sponsors of this platform are such well known tools of big capital as the EU, US-AID, the European Fund for Democracy, and billionaire George Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation.
But although the Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia, who supported the protesters, has resigned, the Lukashenko government remains solid and support for the opposition has proved fleeting. Two weekends ago the government in Belarus organised a mass rally in Minsk to counter opposition attempts to create a Maidan-style protest in the country’s capital. and calls for an anti-government general strike have also largely fallen on deaf ears. Public transport still operates and production has not stopped at any of the major plants in the country.
The British weekly New Worker notes: “The imperialist media claims that millions support the opposition. But one Russian blogger, who’s been sharing aerial images of Minsk’s streets on his Twitter page, says there’s no question of millions or even hundreds of thousands of anti-Lukashenko protesters on the streets. ‘People are yelling that all of Minsk came out. Citizens, I have been filming mass actions using a drone for 10 years now. For the two-million-strong city of Minsk, this is nothing at all. There aren’t even 5,000 of them.’”
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has pledged to provide comprehensive assistance if needed to ensure the security of Belarus and People’s China has again stressed its opposition to any external forces’ attempts to create a split and trigger unrest in Belarus. The Communist Party of Belarus is holding mass rallies across the country in support of Lukashenko and supporting new rank-and-file union committees to counter the reactionary “National Strike Committee” (a clone of the infamous Solidarity in neighbouring Poland) which is (of course!) calling for a general strike to bring down the Lukashenko government. More than 90per cent of Belarusian workers are in trade unions, compared with only eight per cent in Lithuania, where Madame Tikhanovskaya has fled to set up her bogus “government in exile”, and 13 per cent in Poland, whose reactionary regime is also actively supporting the Belarus opposition.
Alexander Lukashenko said during an enlarged meeting of the Belarus Security Council last week “The social and political situation in the country remains tense despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the country continues working. … We cannot feel complacent. Those who want to lull us will not succeed.”
True to form, the “pro-democracy forces” are resorting to terror, making threats against families of servicemen, police officers, government officials and journalists. Also threatened with physical violence or sometimes actually assaulted have been workers in factories and plants who did not support disruptive stoppages. Even heads of enterprises have been attacked. Ever since their experiences in organising the anti-Communist “uprising” in Hungary in 1956, imperialism’s agents have been acutely aware of how important it is to at least maintain the appearance of the workers being intimately involved in the disturbances. Belarus is no different. Lukashenko himself describers the situation: “Every day they [factory workers] have to go through a corridor of aggressive crowds that gather outside factories. It is like the Gestapo.
“I want to express my gratitude to the workers and I ask them to stand tall. You, workers, are the bosses of these factories. We will deal with the protesters who meet you at the entrance,” the Belarusian leader said.