Press Release: Peaceful Protesters and the Kremlin’s Provocation

People of Belarus, in the past couple of months, showed the world the true meaning of peaceful protests. The last week’s demonstration, the largest in Belarus’ history, became an epitome of non-violence and unity. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators countered the brutal beatings by Lukashenko’s regime with enchanting folk songs, the barbed wires – with kisses and flowers, and military helicopters – with their beautiful white-red-white flag. Despite unseen violence by police and Special Forces, while protesting, the people of Belarus demonstrated a remarkable sense of civility: taking shoes when standing on public benches and looking out for one another.

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and shadow rapporteur on Belarus from the Greens/EFA group commented on the situation:

Lukashenko’s regime is grasping for straws. The illegitimate president – domestically and abroad – made a treacherous agreement with the Kremlin and surrender the sovereignty of Belarus in the hope to save himself. While the Russian Government is trying to fool the world that it is only an objective observer with no intentions to interfere, Putin is sending in the ammunition, Special Forces, and his propagandists. As this was not enough to throw the protests out of balance, the Kremlin is now planning an escalation.

On August 27, Mr. Putin told the media that he was ready to deploy the “law enforcement officers” on the streets of Belarus if “the situation gets out of control”. President of Russia specified the red line for intervention to be banditry, “burning cars, houses and banks”.

Viola von Cramon continues:

Right after Putin’s interview, we had the first cases of cars set on fire. It is not difficult to connect the dots. Russian Government is not even trying to mask its intentions with non-interference platitudes anymore. These methods are all in the KGB playbook and well tested through time: if there is no pretext to invade a country – invent the pretext. This is what Putin did in Ukraine. The so-called “Titushky” [mercenary agents often posing as street hooligans] can easily orchestrate a provocation and shift the blame on protesters.

This weekend can be decisive and we all, protesters in Belarus as well as the EU, have to exercise an extraordinary vigilance to avoid the provocation.

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