“We are in the middle of dark hours of Belarusian history,” says Ann Laevskaya, Senior Associate at Sorainen in Minsk. “No one remembers COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath anymore. The nation, excited and shocked at the same time, is focused on what is happening now.”
"On August 9 we had presidential elections," she reports. "Several popular candidates were not allowed to run. Still, some alternative candidates were registered. The campaign teams of those not allowed to run united to support the candidate who claimed to hold fair elections and eventually gained staggering support. In the evening of the election day people across dozens of cities took to the polling stations and central squares to learn the preliminary election results. At the same time, people all over the country started facing severe disruption of internet that continued until Wednesday morning. When we went online again, we saw hundreds of videos evidencing brutal suppression of peaceful protests in Belarus. It was shocking and many people took to the streets to say ‘stop’ to that violence."
Laevskaya expresses her concern about the reports that are leaking out about the treatment of those who have been arrested and detained. "As some start being released, we hear from them and their doctors terrifying stories of torture and see mounting evidence of this torture in photos and videos," she says, the alarm clear in her voice. "People are furious about revelations of brutality against peaceful protesters and unarmed detainees and demand legitimate election process. They started joining solidarity chains in mass and workers from many factories across the country went on strikes. I very much hope that we find a way to the rule of law, peace, and civil consent."