The corporate media doesn’t seem to be telling the truth about this election. First of all, it’s claimed that Lukashenko stole the election. This is dubious; in fact, it’s not true. The observers are claiming that there were irregularities and the elections were not free and fair, and this is probably true.
Here is why we should dispute the Western oligarchy’s media report on the elections. Before the elections, polls, including those by Western organizations, showed Lukashenko with 80% of the vote. That’s exactly the % of vote that he got in the election. So, however, irregular or free and fair the elections were, the results lined up with the pre-election polls.
The corporate media lie about Belarus. They say it is a failing Communist country. It’s not. Belarus is the only country in the former USSR which has seen it’s GDP grow to beyond it’s level in 1990 when the USSR fell. Yes, that is correct. In all of the former USSR, the former republics have GDP’s that are still below the level of the USSR in 1990. Between the fall of the USSR and now, there’s been nothing but total failure in all of the former republics, Russia included.
Belarus was always the place where Communism worked better than anywhere else in the USSR. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia supplied the whole of the USSR – they kept the whole thing going – the rest of the republics were mostly consumers of products originating in those three. People came from all over to live and work in Belarus even during the Soviet era.
The economy of Belarus is a mixed economy, though 80% is state owned. It has been growing by about 10%/yr lately, one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Unemployment is only 1.1%, and yet Lukashenko considers this a serious problem. Small business, family, individual and cooperative enterprises are emphasized in the private sector at the expense of big business.
Health care and education are free, rent is affordable, and it’s almost or totally impossible to get evicted from your apartment. If you can’t pay your rent, you just get bills. This is a bit of a problem since even non-working alcoholic bum types all have their own place from which they can’t be thrown out of, but maybe it’s better that than having them homeless. Homelessness is nearly or entirely nonexistent. There are few to no beggars on the streets. The streets are very clean with little litter or garbage. Utilities are affordable for everyone.
Output in state industries and even agriculture is good. I don’t know how, but somehow Belarus seems to be making Communism work. Belarus is completely self-sufficient in food and is now even a food exporter. Education is free through the university level. Housing is good, sturdy, nice, well-kept up, and everyone has a place. In contrast to many such societies, the stores are all full of goods. The richest quintile has only 4 times the wealth of the lowest quintile, making Belarus one of the most equal societies on Earth.
Oligarchs originally robbed Belarus of much of its wealth as privatization began in 1993. Lukashenko was elected that year, halted the very unpopular privatization and neoliberalization of the economy, confiscated wealth from the oligarch thieves and threw them out of the country. He’s been wildly popular in his country and hated by the West ever since. Belarus has strict immigration controls, so the usual immigrant related crime has not been a problem in the country.
Lukashenko is definitely an autocrat. He imprisons the opposition and exercises control over much of the media, though this control and oppression is exaggerated by the West.
The corporate media implies that his economy is failing and is only kept afloat by below market gas and oil from Russia. I believe Russia gives such deals to most of its former republics. Anyway, Russian oil and gas is not what’s keeping the economy above water.
The opposition had a rally of maybe 40,000 people, the largest ever. They stormed the Parliament building when people were inside and smashed the glass doors and windows of the building. The police were originally unarmed, but after the demonstrators attacked Parliament, they got reinforcements with billy clubs and beat back demonstrators. There were many arrests, and it looks like the opposition is facing some outrageous sentences of up to 15 years.
But you have to wonder how the US would react if a mob of 40,000 stormed Congress and smashed down the glass doors with people inside.
I’m quite sure that the vast majority of Belorussians support Lukashenko. The opposition is funded from abroad, mostly from pro-capitalist interests in the West. Belorussians like their social economy with its security. All of the opposition, unless I am mistaken, wants to tear down the social economy and replace it with the usual capitalist crap, capitalist crap that Belorussians want no part of.
Belorussians prefer security over freedom.