Monday, August 31, 2020

Warning: Kremlin Information Operations Intensify Condition Setting for Intervention in Belarus

 August 31, 2020, 6:00 EDT

By George Barros and Mason Clark 

The Belarusian opposition is developing a new weekly protest rhythm. No significant protests occurred in Belarus on August 31.[1] The size of weekday protests has decreased over the last two weeks from regular nationwide protests with hundreds of participants to scattered protests primarily in Minsk with dozens of participants. Belarusian President Lukashenko’s renewed crackdown and detention campaign since August 26 and the inability of protesters to sustain missing work has likely deterred protesters.[2] The opposition will likely primarily use weekdays to plan and prepare for large Sunday protests.

The Kremlin is taking steps to gain direct control of, rather than suppress, Belarusian media. Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) appointed Russian journalist Marina Bunakova editor-in-chief of its Belarusian branch on August 31.[3] Bunakova previously worked in KP’s main office in Moscow.[4] Belarusian security forces halted the Belarusian KP’s printing at least two consecutive days, likely for providing coverage favorable to the anti-Lukashenko protests. [5] Kremlin-linked businessman Grigory Berezkin owns KP and has previously taken ownership of outlets critical of the Kremlin.[6] The Kremlin previously took control of Belarusian state television.[7] The Kremlin will likely further seek to take control of Belarusian media to advance its framing of the crisis in Belarus.

The Kremlin sent a third covert flight to Minsk on August 30 potentially carrying personnel. An An-148 passenger plane belonging to Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations flew from Moscow to Minsk on August 30 at 1:33am Minsk time.[8] The plane spent approximately one hour in Minsk before leaving at 2:37 am, landing in Moscow at 3:45 am.[9] ISW cannot confirm who or what arrived in Belarus on the flight, but has observed a pattern of Kremlin aircraft arrivals in Minsk punctuating new preparations for a Kremlin intervention in Belarus. Russian media personnel first appeared in Belarus on August 19 after a Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) plane landed in Minsk on August 18.[10] Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the existence of a reserve police force ready to intervene in Belarus on August 27 after the same FSB plane visited Minsk again on August 26.[11] The Kremlin is likely maintaining flights to Minsk to send in key personnel and potentially equipment.

The Kremlin downplayed the scope of the crisis while continuing to blame NATO and the West for protests. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated the Kremlin believes the situation in Belarus is under control and the Kremlin does not need to deploy a police reserve yet on August 31.[12] Putin and Lukashenko likely discussed the issue of sending Russian forces into Belarus in their August 30 phone call.[13] The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the deputy chairman of the Estonian parliament’s foreign affairs committee of trying to foment a “color revolution” in Belarus and falsely accused him of calling for NATO and the United States to intervene in Belarus on August 28.[14] The Kremlin will likely attempt to obscure its ongoing efforts to manipulate perceptions to justify a Russian intervention by denying that intervention is necessary - while simultaneously preemptively justifying it.

Kremlin-run media outlets are increasingly discussing the benefits of a Russian intervention in Belarus. Evgeny Popov, co-host of the flagship “60 Minutes” program on the Kremlin-run channel Russia 1, began discussing the benefits of a Russian intervention in Belarus on August 27.[15] Popov claimed Russia cannot allow “Poles, Lithuanians, Americans, Estonians, Latvians [to] do anything they wanted in [Belarus].” Popov stated Russian involvement is “politically important” rather than “cynical,” as Belarus is both a “brotherly nation” and in Russia’s zones of political and national security.[16] Another Kremlin-linked participant on the same Rossiya 1 segment said, “I want not only Belarusians to profit from our interference, but Russians as well.”[17] The Kremlin has previously used Russia 1, and particularly 60 Minutes, to criticize the Belarusian opposition and support Russian involvement.[18] The Kremlin used similar talking points to justify Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014. The Kremlin is increasingly preparing the Russian-language media space – covering both Russia and Belarus – to legitimize a potential Kremlin intervention.

Lukashenko proposed amending the constitution – a process the Kremlin will likely attempt to exploit. Lukashenko asked Belarus’ Supreme Court to work on constitutional amendments to “move society forward” on August 31.[19] Peskov stated the Kremlin is prepared to help Belarus by sharing the Kremlin’s experience in writing constitutional amendments – a reference to the Kremlin’s changes to the Russian constitution in July 2020.[20] Lukashenko’s decision to revise the Belarusian constitution presents opportunities for the Kremlin to secure provisions granting Russia additional strategic basing rights in Belarus and provisions further institutionalizing the Union State. The Kremlin’s establishment of uncontested freedom of movement in Belarus would enhance Russian forces’ ability to threaten the Suwalki Gap and geographically isolate NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia from the rest of the alliance.[21]

Lukashenko is increasing pressure on state-owned enterprises to end strikes. Belarusian authorities compelled management at the Naftan oil refinery – which previously demanded Lukashenko’s resignation – to take “measures to cut costs in order to minimize the impact of the unfavorable external environment on the company's performance” on August 27, likely a euphemism for firing strike leaders.[22] Belarusian security services detained Anatoly Bokun, the strike leader at the Belaruskali potash fertilizers company, and sentenced him to 15 days of imprisonment on August 31 after detaining and releasing him on August 24.[23] Belarus’ oil export-dependent economy was already weak heading into the August protests due to the global oil price collapse from COVID-19 and Moscow’s economic pressure.[24] The strike movement is compounding these existing economic pressures. Lukashenko will likely continue targeted arrests against strike leaders and coerce state-owned companies to fire striking workers to maintain his economy and reduce protester support

The NEXTA Telegram channel continues to advocate divestment from the state. NEXTA posted directions on August 30 at 12:11 Minsk time for teachers and students to strike.[25] NEXTA claimed the Belarusian education system is a corrupt extension of Lukashenko’s regime and asked parents to either send their children to private schools or homeschool them.[26] NEXTA asked Belarusians to stop providing donations to schools, withdraw students from extracurricular activities and field trips, and reiterated its earlier call to withdraw children from state-organized youth programs and events.[27] Most Belarusian families likely do not have sufficient resources to send their children to private schools or perform homeschooling. Belarusian students are scheduled to return to school on September 1. NEXTA is unlikely to compel a majority of Belarusians to abandon state schools on a single day of notice.

The Baltic States announced sanctions on Lukashenko and his inner circle. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania imposed an entry ban on Lukashenko and 29 other Belarusian officials on August 31.[28] The sanctions are unlikely to change Lukashenko’s repression campaigns or erode his determination to remain president, but they may encourage the EU to take more impactful sanctions. The Kremlin will exploit any Baltic or Western sanctions to claim the opposition is NATO-backed to justify Kremlin involvement.[29]

Lukashenko and the Kremlin’s information operation may start targeting religious cleavages inside Belarus. Belarusian Border guards stopped Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the head of the Catholic Church of Belarus, from returning to Belarus from Poland on August 31.[30] Kondrusiewicz, a Belarusian citizen, previously spoke out against Belarusian police brutality.[31] Approximately six percent of Belarusians are Roman Catholics.[32] Lukashenko and the Kremlin’s information operation may falsely link Belarusian Catholics to NATO-sponsored activity, leveraging historic Eastern Slavic animus towards Catholicism against the predominantly Roman Catholic Poland and Lithuania.

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.

Click here to download the PDF.

[1] https://t(.)me/nexta_live/10085; https://t(.)me/nexta_live/10073.


[3] https://charter97(.)org/en/news/2020/8/31/391512/.

[4] https://charter97(.)org/en/news/2020/8/31/391512/.










[14] The deputy chairman only actually asked a rhetorical question on his Facebook page asking “what are the European Union and the United States doing?” https://rus.postimees(.)ee/7036106/marko-mihkelson-poka-belorusy-boryutsya-chto-delayut-es-i-ssha; https://www.mid(.)ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4303462.





[19] https://news.tut(.)by/economics/698705.html; https://sputnik(.)by/politics/20200831/1045588391/Lukashenko-vlast-budet-predlagat-peremeny.html.

[20] https://tass(.)ru/politika/9329937;;;


[22] https://eng.belta(.)by/economics/view/kochanova-holds-naftan-supervisory-board-meeting-132966-2020/.

[23] https://www.lider-press(.)by/novosti/novosti-soligorska/20654-zaderzhan-sopredsedatel-stachkoma-belarus-kalij-anatolij-bokun; https://interfax(.)by/news/policy/raznoe/1282292/; https://news.tut(.)by/economics/697923.html.


[25] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3878.

[26] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3878.

[27] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3878.

[28] https://tass(.)com/world/1195627;


[30] https://belsat(.)eu/en/news/roman-catholic-archbishop-and-belarusian-citizen-tadeusz-kondrusiewicz-denied-entry-to-country/.

[31] https://belsat(.)eu/en/news/roman-catholic-archbishop-and-belarusian-citizen-tadeusz-kondrusiewicz-denied-entry-to-country/;



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Warning: Militarization of Lukashenko’s Response to Belarusian Protests Increases but Without Violence; Moscow Continues to Set Conditions for Intervention

August 30, 2020, 5:15 pm EDT

By George Barros 

Unprecedented Belarusian conventional military deployments and widespread detentions failed to deter mass protests in Minsk on August 30. Over 100,000 protesters marched in Minsk and demonstrated at Lukashenko’s Presidential Palace to demand his resignation on August 30.[1] This was the fourth consecutive Sunday protest in Minsk. Lukashenko deployed a heavy police and conventional military presence in Minsk to block protester access to Independence Square, the original location of the protest, and Lukashenko’s residence.[2] Belarusian riot police’s detained demonstrators early in the morning of August 30 but failed to deter protesters.[3] Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported Belarusian authorities detained at least 125 protesters on August 30. after refraining from detaining protesters on August 29 and the August 23 Sunday march.[4] Protests also occurred in other major Belarusian cities including Brest, Grodno, Mogielev, and Gomel.[5] Protesters dispersed from the barricade at Lukashenko’s residence around 6:00 pm Minsk time following heavy rain and hail.[6] Large weekly protests on Sundays will likely continue unless some aspect of the situation changes.

Lukashenko deployed armored vehicles alongside conventional forces against protests for the first time. Infantry fighting vehicles (BMPs) and armored personnel carriers (BTRs) arrived at Lukashenko’s residence to reinforce the police barricade on August 30.[7] At least five BTRs near Lukashenko’s residence did not have visible unit insignias or numbering.[8] The armored vehicles likely belong to units from the Belarusian Army’s 120th Mechanized Brigade. Minsk residents filmed BMP columns with unit markings heading from the eastern outskirts of Minsk in the Uruchcha area, where the 120th Mechanized Brigade is based, towards the city center.[9] Lukashenko deployed conventional military units in trucks on August 23 but has not yet deployed armored fighting vehicles. Belarusian military units did not open fire on protesters but appeared equipped for combat. Lukashenko likely deployed BMPs for the first time to increase security around his residence and intimidate protesters. Lukashenko will likely continue to use armored vehicles against future protests, further militarizing his response to the opposition.

Russian riot control personnel in Belarusian uniforms may already be operating in Belarus. St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Diana Seraya tweeted a video showing men in black uniforms with no insignia unloading luggage and riot shields from unmarked riot police trucks at the St. Petersburg riot police base on August 30.[10] It is unclear from where the men arrived. The unmarked trucks in Seraya’s video are visually similar to unmarked trucks the Conflict Intelligence Team OSINT group spotted driving towards Belarus from Smolensk on August 16.[11] The Kremlin confirmed on August 27 the existence of a Russian law enforcement officer reserve prepared to intervene in Belarus if the situation “gets out of control.”[12] The men in Seraya’s video may have returned to Russia from a two-week rotation in Belarus to augment Lukashenko’s security forces. ISW forecasted the Kremlin’s preparation to augment Lukashenko’s security forces with Russian personnel on August 19.[13]

Emboldened protesters began to physically resist detentions. Protesters are now defending themselves from being arrested by swarming riot police and detention vans.[14] Protesters have not confronted riot police detaining protesters prior to August 30.[15] Protesters are adopting more active tactics that may lead to conflict escalation between protesters and security forces. However, protesters in Minsk continued to avoid unprovoked confrontations with security forces and did not attempt to breach police and army barricades on August 30.[16]

Lukashenko further tightened control over the information space. Belarusian authorities forced A1, one of Belarus’ largest mobile cell service operators, to reduce bandwidth speeds on August 30.[17] This is likely part of the Kremlin and Lukashenko’s information operation to regain control over the international information space regarding the protests.[18] Lukashenko and the Kremlin likely seek to prevent Belarusians citizens from distributing cell phone video footage of protests and security forces; cell phone recordings have become one of the primary methods of relaying information about the protests in Belarus in the absence of a free media space.[19]

Kremlin media is increasingly framing the protesters as violent. Russian state media RT and Izvestia reported the Belarusian Interior Ministry claimed that protesters damaged a police car near the Independence Square barricade on August 30.[20] There is no photographic evidence of the allegedly damaged car as of this writing. Kremlin media will likely increasingly frame the protesters as violent – especially as both Lukashenko and the protesters continue to escalate the protests – as part of the Kremlin’s information operation to justify deeper intervention.[21]

Russian involvement in Belarus will very likely increase. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Lukashenko on August 30 and agreed to meet in Moscow at some time “in the coming weeks.”[22] Lukashenko’s dependence on Kremlin backing will likely increase given Lukashenko’s decision to escalate protests with the use of armed conventional forces and the opposition’s growing boldness to resist detentions.

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.


[1] ; ;

[2] ;

[3] ;


[5] ; https://novayagazeta(.)ru/articles/2020/08/30/86885-protesty-v-belarusi-den-22-chto-proishodit-online ;

[6] ; ;

[7] ;

[8] ;

[9]; ;; ;; ; ;

[10] ;

[11] ;

[12] http://kremlin((.))ru/events/president/news/63951 ;


[14] ; ;



[17] https://ria(.)ru/20200830/internet-1576493232.html





[22] http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/63966


Warning: NEXTA Strategy to Create Grassroots Organization in Belarus Likely to Provoke Kremlin Response

August 30, 2020, 9:00 am EDT

By George Barros

The NEXTA Telegram channel published its first public strategy for the protest movement on August 28. NEXTA released a “plan for victory” for the opposition on August 28 at 10:49 pm Minsk time.[1] NEXTA stated the plan’s purpose is to implement three “popular demands”: remove Lukashenko and enable new free elections; ensure the release of all political prisoners; and conduct fair trials for security personnel who abused detainees – in line with NEXTA’s preexisting stated goals.[2] NEXTA called for the opposition to unify behind Svetlana Tikhanouskaya and the Coordination Council, create activist networks inside Belarus, and implement six coordinated campaigns against Lukashenko.[3] Tikhanouskaya has not commented on NEXTA’s strategy as of this writing.

The purpose of this update is to present and explain the NEXTA post rather than to evaluate its likely effects or effectiveness.  ISW may offer such an evaluation in coming days if the NEXTA strategy appears salient enough to warrant further consideration and if it is not overtaken by events on the ground in Belarus or in cyberspace in the meantime.

NEXTA structured its plan through six coordinated campaigns and five forms of protester organization. NEXTA called for activists to open six “fronts” against Lukashenko – labeling them the protest, economic, information, political, judicial, and international ”fronts.”[4] Each of these “fronts” are structured anti-Lukashenko campaigns, several of which support each other and share overlapping objectives – analyzed synthetically below.

NEXTA additionally called for activists to create five “ministries” to organize coordinated opposition efforts and implement the campaigns.[5] The “ministries” are not formal organizations, but rather lines of effort for activist organization intended to generate cooperation and self-sufficiency for the protest movement.[6] NEXTA instructed individuals to choose campaigns they find appealing and work to start “systematic work in [your] chosen direction.”[7] The five “ministries” are:

  • Ministry of Economy – to create a parallel economy to undermine the state-run system;
  • Ministry of Solidarity – to provide social support, including employment, for protesters who have lost their jobs;
  • Ministry of Medical Help – to provide healthcare to injured protesters and support doctors;
  • Ministry of Social Protection – to coordinate charity and replace government services currently paid for by the Belarusian state;
  • Ministry of Protection – to create groups to deescalate provocations at protests, carry out “local law enforcement,” and monitor Belarusian security forces.[8]

NEXTA’s strategy seeks to unify the Belarusian opposition behind Svetlana Tikhanouskaya and her Coordination Council despite past disagreements between NEXTA and Tikanouskaya. NEXTA stated it intends to “return the legitimate President Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to the country, hold new fair elections and achieve the adoption of a new Constitution.”[9] NEXTA previously focused on the Coordination Council over direct support of Tikhanouskaya and encouraged a more confrontational approach to protests. NEXTA is ceding its existing control over the opposition by encouraging local initiatives, encouraging decentralization away from NEXTA’s Telegram channel, and overtly backing Tikhanouskaya and her Coordination Council. However, NEXTA’s plan calls for more direct confrontation with Belarusian power structures than previously called for by Tikanouskaya (although it stops short of calling for violence)  – retaining elements of NEXTA’s more assertive approach to ousting Lukashenko directly, rather than focusing on negotiations. ISW previously assessed the opposition’s unification would be a key first step for the opposition to consolidate a base from which to organize and optimize its activity.[10] NEXTA likely unified behind Tikanouskaya to prevent further splits in the opposition.

NEXTA’s strategy seeks to create sustainable grassroots activist networks inside Belarus under an umbrella activist organization. NEXTA announced an overarching activist organization called the Belarusian People’s Movement (BNR - Беларускі Народны Рух – an acronym that rhymes with the DNR and LNR, Kremlin proxies in Ukraine).[11] NEXTA claimed all opposition participants are already BNR members and called for protesters to “support local leaders you know, or become leaders.”[12] NEXTA directed Belarusians to create localized coordination Telegram chats for “your personal BNR group” and instructed BNR groups to establish intergroup networks with other regional BNR groups.[13] NEXTA has previously concentrated its efforts on protests in Minsk and encouraging nationwide protests. NEXTA likely seeks to spur the formation of a grassroots organization to sustain the momentum of the protest movement and enable flexible, localized protest organization.

NEXTA’s anti-Lukashenko campaigns:

NEXTA’s protest campaign seeks to develop decentralized protest planning capabilities and sustain regular weekly protests. NEXTA’s protest campaign calls for weekly national marches on Sundays and ongoing strikes by all workers, state employees, and students.[14] NEXTA likely intends to use its proven capability to direct individual Sunday protests to normalize large weekly marches. Protesters will develop their own local leadership and capability to organize large protests without NEXTA if NEXTA’s protest campaign succeeds, enabling flexible protest goals. However, the emergence of local protester leadership creates additional risks. Belarusian authorities will likely be able to identify, target, and detain local protest leaders as it has with Coordination Council members.[15] Local protest leaders may additionally divide the opposition by pursuing diverse approaches and goals in the absence of effective centralized coordination – which NEXTA has not yet provided outside Minsk.

NEXTA’s economic campaign seeks to push Lukashenko into a liquidity crisis to force him to negotiate with the opposition. NEXTA’s economic campaign calls on Belarusians to: withdraw deposits from all state banks; stop paying taxes; stall utility payments; boycott food and textile purchases from state enterprises; and refuse commercial cooperation with the state.[16] NEXTA intends its “Ministry of Economy” to support this effort by using Telegram to create digital marketplaces where individuals may buy goods directly from each other, exchange currency, and maintain blacklists of pro-Lukashenko businesses to boycott.[17] NEXTA similarly intends the “Ministry of Solidarity” and “Ministry of Social Protection” to buttress this campaign by redirecting taxes deliberately not paid to the Belarusian state to help pensioners, orphans, the disabled, the elderly, and fired strikers. NEXTA’s economic campaign, if successful, will erode Lukashenko’s support base amongst groups dependent on state support, including security services. However, this campaign presumes the rapid emergence of a successful parallel economy and state structure – a lofty goal considering Belarus’ historic lack of a civil society and opposition networks.  

NEXTA’s judicial and political campaigns seek to erode remaining pro-Lukashenko support amongst Belarusian civilians and government officials. NEXTA’s judicial campaign calls Belarusians to: chronicle abusive detention experiences; investigate police abuses by collecting names and evidence of all personnel involved; publicize information about personnel who committed abuses.[18] NEXTA’s political campaign calls Belarusians to: recall officials; withdraw en masse from state programs, such as pro-government trade unions and Belarus’ Pioneers and Octoberists youth programs; and boycott mandatory pro-government meetings.[19] These campaigns, if successful, could degrade Lukashenko’s support among the civilian population and government officials.

NEXTA’s information campaign seeks to reduce the audience of Belarusian and Kremlin information operations and expand a parallel opposition media space. NEXTA’s information campaign calls on Belarusians to: expand Telegram usage; increase use of social networks for communication; begin localized propaganda leaflet distribution; ignore compulsory subscription to Belarusian state newspapers; create regional content, and support independent journalists.[20] The Kremlin has supported Lukashenko with information support and Russian media personnel since August 19.[21] Lukashenko is steadily eliminating space for independent journalism, moreover.  The Kremlin and Lukashenko retain the capability to crack down harder on Belarusian journalists, impede opposition media, and could target Telegram.

NEXTA’s international campaign seeks to coalesce the Belarusian diaspora behind Tikhanouskaya and increase international pressure against Lukashenko. NEXTA’s international campaign calls on the Belarusian diaspora to: unify around Tikhanouskaya; create organizations and private foundations to support the opposition in Belarus; lobby their own governments to prevent Belarus from receiving any international support or funds; and support Belarusians with asylum and medical assistance.[22] This campaign supports two overarching efforts: the economic campaign’s goal of pushing Lukashenko into a liquidity crisis and the effort to unify the opposition behind Tikhanouskaya. NEXTA likely intends to internationalize the cause of the Belarusian opposition and bring attention to its efforts.

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.

Click here to download the PDF.

[1] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[2] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851 ; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[3] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851 ; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[4] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[5] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[6] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[7] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852

[8] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[9] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852


[11] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852; https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3853

[12] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852

[13] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852

[14] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851

[15] ; ;

[16] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851

[17] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852

[18] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852

[19] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851

[20] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3851


[22] https://t(.)me/nexta_tv/3852


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Warning: Lukashenko and the Kremlin Consolidate Control of Belarusian Media Space

August 29, 2020, 7:30 pm EDT

By George Barros

The Kremlin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko consolidated control over the international information space ahead of a likely crackdown. Belarusian authorities stripped accreditation from at least 17 international journalists working in Minsk and demanded they leave the country on August 29.[1] The journalists worked for major Western news organizations including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the BBC, the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence-France Presse, Germany’s ARD television, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France.[2] Belarusian authorities arrested at least two RFE/RL journalists while they were reporting live on air in Minsk on August 29.[3] Belarusian authorities additionally blocked Naviny and Nasha Niva – two of Belarus’ remaining independent news agencies - and arrested the operator of the KYKY Belarusian news site on August 28.[4] Independent Belarusian media and foreign journalists are crucial for covering protests and security force responses in the absence of a free media space. Lukashenko partially blocked the internet on August 9 and Russian personnel began running Belarusian state media on August 19.[5] Lukashenko’s coordinated effort to consolidate control over the Belarusian information space, primarily targeting international coverage, may be a prelude to a crackdown against protesters.

Belarusian authorities did not try to disperse large protests in Minsk for the first time in a week on August 29. Approximately ten thousand women marched in Minsk on August 29.[6] Riot police and security troops cordoned off the protest route and blocked at least four metro stations on the route but did not detain or disperse protesters.[7] Security forces detained at least one male protester but did not use force against female protesters.[8] Belarusian forces contained and dispersed small protests and resumed detaining protesters between August 19-28.[9] The absence of crackdowns on August 29 may encourage more Belarusians to participate in the large planned protests in Minsk on August 30.

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.

Click here to download the PDF.




[4] https://lenta; https://kyky(.)org/news/ne-nadetsya-na-peremeny-a-delat-ih-nadya-zelenkova-o-tom-chto-budet-s-delom-sashi-vasilevicha 


[6] https://meduza(.)io/feature/2020/08/29/desyat-tysyach-zhenschin-proshli-marshem-po-tsentru-minska-omon-pytalsya-im-pomeshat-no-ne-smog

[7] ;


[9] ; ; ;