Here comes Lukashenka 4.0 – get rich, be free, just don’t ask for democracy.
by Andrei Dynko
Presidential elections will be held in Belarus on 19 December. Never before have there been so many candidates. Is this a real change?
MASSACRE IN MINSK
Massacre is taking Minsk’s cinemas by storm. A Belarusian horror movie would have been inconceivable in Soviet times, or even 10 years ago. What’s more, it is set in the period after the anti-Russian uprising of 1863.
Director Andrey Kudinenko’s previous film was banned in Belarus. This time, it was Lukashenka’s film studios that invited him to collaborate, and he received $2 million to make the film.
Belarus has changed a lot in 15 years in spite of the dictatorship (some even say thanks to it). Its economy has grown at twice the rate of that in neighboring Ukraine. This is a Chinese, or rather Singaporean, model. Lukashenka is convinced that it is the one best suited to the Belarusian mentality and geopolitical situation.
Not everyone agrees. A parallel society has grown up, which is phenomenal for a country that had just a few lonely dissidents under the USSR. Rock music, samizdat, and discussion clubs are flourishing, and there are increased zones of freedom inside the regime itself.
In order to catch this wave, Lukashenka is ready to commandeer what used to be the opposition’s seditious slogan “For Freedom.” “[E]verything not expressly banned will be legal in this country …” he writes in the short version of his election manifesto, published in state newspapers on 27 November.