Belarusian Utopia / Беларуская ўтопія

, by Horia-Victor Lefter, Translated by Ioana Danaila

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Belarusian Utopia / Беларуская ўтопія

Early in the gloomy morning of December 20th, the news spread at the speed of light. They started to light up the sky of Belarus before reaching the rest of Europe. The world realised with stupefaction and joy that Alexander Lukashenko was no longer in power.

The cries of joy in Belarus and the free display of white-red-white flags showed how happy people were for being able to freely use their language and culture.

For the first time since 1994, on 19 December 2010 Belarus has known general elections according to democratic principles, respecting political pluralism demanded for by the European Union. The election campaign introduced a number of innovations such as a television debate with the ten candidates and a discussion about homosexuality, because, like a Russian in Belarus said, “Yes, there are gay people here too”.

Heads of State around the world, starting with the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the member states of the European Union one after another rushed to honour the winner. Long before the elections, the international community, except perhaps for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been in favour of a replacement of the President in Belarus.

However, in a country where the death penalty still existed and where opponents were simply put in jail, some things might never change. Examples can be found in architecture as an American who has been living in Minsk puts it. After five years in Minsk, a German has the impression that change is needed there.

Long before the elections, the international community [...] has been in favour of a replacement of the President in Belarus.

At that point the dream is interrupted by the sound of the alarm clock and what remains is nothing but hope. David Marples, a world-famous specialist on Belarus questions if there are going to be serious changes and if the Belarusians are actually up for these changes. So far, President Alexander Lukashenko is still in power (the spelling reform of the Belarusian language, in force since September 2010, states that the word “President” must be written with a capital P).

Hoping for better days to come, the association of Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) invites you, on the occasion of the street action “Free Belarus”, to read this special issue of their webzine, available in four languages. Specialists will try to shed a light on the current situation in Belarus, from politics to culture, including testimony from Belarusians as well as foreigners who have been living in Minsk or Homel.

To conclude, standing up for those who cannot freely express their opinion without risking to be imprisoned or declared public enemy, we encourage Europe’s youth to gag it’s statues and let the pictures speak for themselves. On behalf of the Young European Federalists we invite you to discover Belarus, and hope you enjoy reading! Дзякую! Паспяховай Вам маніфестацыі за Вольную Беларусь!

Editor’s note:

From 15 to 21 December the thematic focus of will be on the presidential elections in Belarus and the pan-European street action for a free and democratic Belarus organised by the Young European Federalists.

Image: Free Belarus Action 2010 - Bordeaux (Kevin Perrottet)

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