Echoes of 1989: small-town wrath besieges Belarus dictator

World

Echoes of 1989: small-town wrath besieges Belarus dictator

As violence spreads beyond middle classes, nation is on brink of revolution echoing the fall of the Soviet Union

Nataliya Vasilyeva

Deep in the Belarusian countryside, burly men with sun-burnt cheeks stood outside their quarry with homemade posters reading “We stand for free and fair elections” mounted on top of the machinery. They were on strike for the first time in their lives, in what could be the most significant week in the nation’s post-Soviet history.

Small-town, working-class Belarus, once loyal to Alexander Lukashenko, the president of 26 years, has turned its back on Europe’s last dictator following widespread election fraud at last Sunday voting, savagery by riot police and horrifying stories of torture in jails.

With the opposition ranks swelling in the capital Minsk, it is the heavy industrialised towns like Hrodna that could spell the end of the continent’s longest-serving leader...

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