When the plane with the desired journalist was forced to land in Minsk on Sunday, it became clear again when Roman Protashevich (26) was sent straight to the dark prison: the boss of Alexander Lukashenko.
Today he is invited to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, where he will try to strengthen good relations with his most important supporters.
But last summer everything seemed completely different. Most thought the 66-year-old president would fall soon. Hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for change and democracy will win.
Then everything changed
We go to August last year. It was a hot morning at the large tractor wheel factory in the southeast of the Belarusian capital Minsk.
A week ago, Lukashenko ran again in the presidential election and won more than 80 percent of the vote. According to official statistics, no one really believes, not in Belarus or abroad.
Now the president had come to speak for himself. Workers of large state-controlled companies in Belarus have traditionally supported Lukashenko, who ensured secure jobs and a fairly predictable future.
But now things have changed.
Lukashenko kept his head cool
When Lukashenko stood there in his white shirt and said that there would be no new elections until you killed me, the shouts began to come.
“Lie. Get down”. Gradually, more people joined. This is the moment when everything can change in Belarus, often portrayed as Europe’s last dictatorship.
If the passionate Alexander Lukashenko had chosen to go into direct confrontation with the workers at the MZKT wheel factory, perhaps by sending his large number of security guards to the workers or using weapons, he would have provoked a reaction unknown to anyone. It’s over.
He got into a fight with some workers in the factory and later avoided a confrontation with his 16-year-old son Nikolai, although Kalashnikov appeared at hand with an automatic rifle. .
Many of us who saw the play in Belarus, where hundreds of thousands of people were quietly protesting in the streets, thought it should end now in August. Finally, after 26 years as president, Lukashenko had to relinquish power.
The opposition was exhausted
But in these crucial weeks Lukashenko and his regime were able to keep the teams together. The tactic allowed the powerful security apparatus to slowly do its job after dispelling the resistance. By arresting and persecuting the enemies of the regime.
Many believe that this is a ploy to whisper in the ear of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambassador Lukashenko. They came to Minsk after the August 8 presidential election as the situation escalated.
Activist dies in Belarus after being attacked by masked men
On September 7, 2020, one of the leading figures in the opposition, Maria Kolsnikova, was abducted and tried to be deported.
Thus, he became one of several hundred opposition political prisoners in Belarus. Opposition candidate Svetlana Dikanovskaya has been deported to Lithuania, where her husband Sergei is a convicted felon.
Daughter Ursula had to flee to avoid being born in prison
Now they have someone else’s company. Roman Protashevich, 26, spent most of his life ousting Alexander Lukashenko and turning Belarus into an almost civilized European country.
His website Nexta helped mobilize people for anti-Lukashenko protests in 2000.
“I would have pushed the plane down if I had known”
Therefore, it is not surprising that Lukashenko addressed parliament on Wednesday. If he had known that the journalist was on the Ryaner flight from Athens to Vilnius on May 23, he would have forced it, which was a slander from the president.
But he insisted that it was No. He knew that Protashevich was on a plane and that the reaction after what many described as a “state kidnapping” was an attempt at a hybrid war against Belarus.
Unexpectedly, what Lukashenko and the EU and the West are doing to Belarus is actually a precursor to an attack on the East. Against Russia.
Again, Lukashenko has received full support for his actions from the Russian authorities. Again: not too surprising.
The pilot asked questions about the bomb threat before the controversial emergency landing
In the current tense situation between Russia and the European Union, NATO and at least the United States, Belarus does not want Russia to slip away from them.
Although the relationship between Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin has not always been good, Russian officials today see no alternative to the current Belarusian leader.
This is despite the fact that Svetlana Tikanovskaya and other opposition leaders in Belarus insisted on a good relationship with Moscow.
Will there be new struggles?
Dikanovskaya and the opposition have called for new struggles and demonstrations. But as today, when Alexander Lukashenko told parliament on Wednesday, he said there would be no more protests.
But now he is running a police state without trusting the majority of the population. So things can change quickly.
There are many indications that this will not happen until Russia and Vladimir Putin believe in an alternative to Lukashenko, which confirms the location of Belarus. As a buffer on security policy against NATO and the United States.
The future of Roman Protashevich, flutist Maria Kolsnikova and other political prisoners in Belarus looks bleak.