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Russia has made its choice. But what about Belarus?

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

Some may argue that Putin's elections (and expecting anything else would be strange) passed almost unnoticed and calmly, much like the "single voting day" in Belarus. There was no significant protest mobilization or societal activity, no serious resistance, and so on. In this sense, both events appear similar.

However, there is a significant difference. The actual boycott of the so-called "single voting day" in Belarus on February 25 occurred after 2020, when Belarusians had already demonstrated what they stand for and fight for. Hundreds of thousands (up to a million) of people took to the streets across the country (up to half a million in Minsk).

This boycott took place amidst 3.5 years of continuous mass repression, following the anti-war protests and partisan actions in 2022. Despite the dangerous conditions and the height of terror, the Belarusians did not relent and showed through their actions that they are against the war that Lukashenko has dragged Belarus into.

Therefore, the boycott of the so-called "single voting day", where the Lukashenko regime attempted to corral people and present it as a monumental event for Belarus, is also a form of protest, taking into account the internal context of Belarus and the situation of mass terror.

In Russia, the elections took place with virtually no visible opposition or disagreement from society. Compared to Belarus, the conditions were relatively safe (the level of repression and corresponding threats and risks for citizens expressing protest in our country and in Russia are incomparable).

Moreover, the actions in Russia were merely symbolic and did not have a massive scale or a specific political agenda.

Thus, the non-participation of Belarusians in the so-called "single voting day" can be viewed as a positive phenomenon, demonstrating the ongoing rejection of the Lukashenko regime in society and the unwillingness to associate with it. On the other hand, the passivity of the majority of Russians in the presidential elections is a concerning phenomenon that reflects the true attitude of Russian society towards ongoing events, the war, and Putin. It indicates general acceptance and public consent.

In this regard, it is not difficult to believe in the record, according to the Russian Central Election Commission, turnout, even if it was partly falsified, and in the results of the recent vote. However, it is important to note that the "elections" in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, which are part of the international crime of aggression committed by Russia against Ukraine and its people, should not be considered valid.

Therefore, the very fact of organizing "elections" in those territories should preclude the possibility of international recognition of the presidential election results in Russia.

Returning to the reaction of Russian society, it can be concluded that today Russia and the majority of Russians have made their choice. Like a well-known warship, Russia continues on its frightful course of aggression, war, and imperialism. 

The only way to halt this is through Ukraine's victory, with one crucial element being the removal of Putin's puppet Lukashenko's regime in Belarus, followed by the invitation of democratic Belarus to join the EU.



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