The people of Belarus have risen up against Belarus' self-appointed President Alexander Lukashenko after he massively falsified the August 9 presidential election results, giving himself over 80% of the vote. The international community has universally condemned the result. Russia congratulated Lukashenko on his victory. A new front in the geopolitical showdown between east and west has been opened. But really it's the people how live next door to Belarus – Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania – that matter the most as they are the ones in the firing line.
The consultancy Premise published a survey of attitudes to the Belarusian revolution in the last week of August in the three neighbouring countries that highlight the history and culture that binds them together and the geopolitical fears that continue to dog the region.
Some 88% of respondents indicated they are either very closely or somewhat closely following the ongoing events in Belarus, a pattern that did not significantly vary by country, reports Premise in an article authored by Aaron Schwartzbaum, a lead customer success operations specialist for Premise, based in Washington, DC and a well-known commentator on Eastern Europe.
“Though a plurality of respondents were tuned into Belarusian politics prior to the presidential vote, fraud allegations seemed to be the key trigger for the neighbours’ attention. Indeed, nearly 83% of respondents reported they were following events before security forces began their violent repression of the protests,” Schwartzbaum wrote.
While the three countries have different attitudes to Belarus, which is home to ethnic Slavs, Poles and Lithuanians, the respondents in all three are sympathetic toward the protest movement and worried about the prospect of Russian intervention.
“There was more divergence in views regarding Lukashenko and [former English teacher and nominal victor in Belarus’ presidential election Svetlana Tikhanovskaya],” says Schwartzbaum. “On aggregate, the latter remains not well known, with a plurality of respondents having no strong opinion toward her. Meanwhile, Lukashenko is a more polarising figure, with large segments of respondents holding both favourable and unfavourable views of him.”
“That said, there is a clear regional dynamic at play here. The results in Poland and Lithuania paint a radically different picture. While [Tikhanovskaya]has a lot more sympathy in the countries above, she still remains a relatively unknown figure,” said Schwartzbaum.