La última dictadura de Europa

March 16, 2006

Financial Times (www.ft.com) se pregunta si la restauración de la tiranía es posible en la Europa del siglo XXI. Robin Shepherd, especialista del Centre for Strategic and International Studies, estima que el “modelo” de Bieolorrusia es una amenaza evidente, próxima e inquietante.

Liberation cuenta la larga marcha de quienes luchan contra el miedo y los tentáculos del terror de Estado.

¿Una enésima revuelta contra la siempre última dictadura de Europa?

Esta es la respuesta de Robin Shepherd publicada por Financial Times:

The denim revolt that can rid Europe of tyranny
By Robin Shepherd
Published: March 15 2006 20:24 | Last updated: March 15 2006 20:24

Is dictatorship still possible in 21st-century Europe? By any standards of decency or sanity, the question should be either rhetorical or at least so hypothetical as not to warrant serious attention. But, as the 10m citizens of the former Soviet republic of Belarus can testify, it is neither. This week’s elections in that benighted land may determine whether Belarus formally accedes to the title of “last dictatorship in Europe” (bestowed upon it by Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state) or whether the last remnants of tyranny on the Continent are finally swept away.

If Alexander Lukashenko, the preposterous and sinister Belarusan president, gets his way the direction of events is clear. He has already intimated he will get at least 75 per cent of the votes in the election, and recently issued a blood-curdling warning to Alexander Milinkevich, the opposition leader, who has pledged to bring thousands on to the streets if, as seems certain, the vote is rigged. “No one will climb on to the barricades to fight Lukashenko,” he said. “If there are provocations, we’ll give them such a going-over they won’t know what’s hit them.” Stepan Sukhorenko, the head of what is tellingly still called the KGB, has also accused opposition leaders of planning to discredit the regime by detonating explosives among the crowds on election day – a truly terrifying threat that the KGB itself will plant such explosives and blame the ensuing mayhem on the opposition. The prospects for bloodshed after the March 19 poll are frighteningly real. The regime has murdered its opponents in the past and will not hesitate to do so again.

For most outsiders, the obvious reference point here is Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. Unfortunately, the analogy can be misleading. Unlike Ukraine, the opposition does not even have a toehold in the key centres of political power. There is not a single opposition deputy in parliament. The courts are wholly beholden to the regime. All media are state controlled. The space for people power has been narrowed dramatically with the near liquidation of the non-governmental sector. And with 80 per cent of the economy in state hands, there are no “dissident oligarchs” such as Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko or Yulia Tymoshenko to finance clandestine activity.

Just as Belarusan pro-democracy activists have been learning the lessons of the Orange Revolution, so has Mr Lukashenko. Pro-democratic and anti-democratic forces have been on the same learning curve, and have drawn opposite conclusions. There remains, however, one underlying similarity that may yet prove decisive: it is only via a democratic mandate that Mr Lukashenko can legitimise his regime. Divine right may work in parts of the Islamic world. Communist ideology may still hold sway in North Korea. But in Europe, democracy is the sole remaining option. However much of a charade he intends them to be, Mr Lukashenko must hold elections. That gives opposition forces something to unite around and raises the prospect of fatal damage to the regime if there is a widespread perception of fraud. This is the fundamental weakness inside all of Europe’s neo-authoritarian regimes and Mr Lukashenko’s is no exception. At election time they are forced to play sorcerer’s apprentice with democratic forces they do not fully understand and cannot ultimately control.

Such forces are now emerging. Most of the opposition has united around Mr Milinkevich, whose campaign is centred precisely on raising awareness of the regime’s plans to rig the vote. In common with other such movements, the opposition has selected a colour for its campaign: denim blue, chosen because of the way jeans came to symbolise the idea of freedom in the Soviet past. There is also evidence of a groundswell of popular support for the opposition, although, since most people are too afraid to express open opposition to Mr Lukashenko, it is impossible to assess the real state of public opinion. What is certain is that there is widespread discontent beneath the surface. One recent poll suggested that one-third of the adult population wants to leave the country, a figure that rises to 50 per cent for people under 30.

Few dare to hope for immediate change in Belarus. But the building blocks for change are starting to materialise. One big complicating factor, however, is the now predictable opposition of Russia. Many in Moscow view the confrontation over Belarus as the final battle for “strategic space” in post-communist Europe and see Belarus as the last country on the Continent through which the illusion of imperial power can still be sustained. Warning the west not to interfere last month Sergei Ivanov, Russian defence minister, put it bluntly: “Belarusans and Russians are one people.”

It is vital, though, that the west does get involved. This is not just because the existence of a violent dictatorship on the Continent is an affront to civilised values, but because the credibility of the west is at stake. There is no point talking about building democracy in the Middle East and Afghanistan if we are impotent in the face of an upstart dictatorship in Europe.

There has been plenty of rhetoric denouncing Mr Lukashenko from the US and Europe in recent weeks, but it is time to formulate a comprehensive plan of action including widespread economic sanctions if Mr Lukashenko resorts to further violence. This is the last battle for democracy in Europe. It is something that we cannot ignore.

The writer is an adjunct fellow of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies

One Response to “La última dictadura de Europa”


  1. […] Mientras nosotros consideramos un éxito expulsar o alejar de nuestras fronteras, por la fuerza, a quienes huyen de sus tierras, en busca de pan y libertad, el sonambulismo de nuestro relativo confort material no impide advertir que la tiranía y el despotismo son realidades bien presentes a las puertas de nuestro club antiguos ricos contemplando el ocaso de su melancólica existencia. [ .. ] Biografía NO autorizada de CJC […]


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