Belarus Uprising: How a Dictator Became Vulnerable

Issue Date October 2020
Volume 31
Issue 4
Page Numbers 17-27
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Read the full essay here.

Following Belarus’s fraudulent presidential election on August 9, hundreds of thousands took to the streets, creating an unprecedented threat to the rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Protest leaders have explicitly distinguished their new movement from the “color revolutions” that have taken place in other postcommunist countries. Rather than calling for major changes in geopolitical orientation, they have focused their demands on free and democratic elections together with a return to the constitutional status quo that existed before Lukashenka. The dictator himself has miscalculated by underestimating opposition-unifier Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Even if Belarus’s antirevolutionary uprising fails to oust Lukashenka, it has destroyed the perception that he is invulnerable to opposition challenge. Belarusian democracy may well be on the horizon.

About the Author

Lucan Way is Distinguished Professor of Democracy at the University of Toronto, co-director of the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, and co-chair of the Journal of Democracy Editorial Board.

View all work by Lucan A. Way