The struggle to turn ‘slacktivism’ to activism in Belarus

Nov 30, 2011
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Social media-spawned protests have failed to materialize as expected despite recent attempts by Belarusian activists. After the sentencing of prominent human rights activist Ales Bialacki (also the vice-president of the International Human Rights Federation), many expected some sort of mobilization campaign.

And really, after the break suggested by the “revolution through the social networks” initiative in early August, Viacaslau Dzijanau, the moderator of this group in the Russian-language VKontakte.ru social network, tried to reignite activity by organizing another silent clapping demonstration in early September. Almost no one came to the meeting point.

The same happened to the Stop Benzine campaign where drivers were supposed to block main avenues by moving very slowly to protest the rise in petrol prices. The two declared demonstrations in September and October did not occur, although that was partially due to a blockade imposed by the police on the roads where these demonstrations were supposed to happen.

However as an anonymous source from the Stop Benzine campaign told the Belarusian independent portal Charter97.org there were no actions planned for now – and this is in the situation when the inflation has reached 110% and Lukashenka has returned to the populist rhetoric of continuing to raise salaries – which, in any case, will skyrocket the inflation the next year.

Currently, there is only one political group in the top-10 communities in the Belarusian VKontakte.ru,  although in early 2011 there were three. That doesn’t mean though that protesting potential is down; I would rather connect it to an absence of clear ideas for the society from the democratic activists and opposition.

Now, when the support for Lukashenka has gone down to 25-30%, these ideas are necessary as air we breath.


About the Author

Alaksiej Lavoncyk

Alaksiej Lavonczyk is a media activist and social media expert from Minsk, Belarus. He had been in charge of the training projects for the NGOs and media on building their capacity in online campaigning and end-user security. Alaksiej had also acted as a consulting and technical expert for NGOs and media in Belarus and four countries of Central Asia (except Turkmenistan) on upgrading media/NGO websites to meet contemporary standards, and on their promotion online. Alaksiej is also running an online training centre for the Central Asians preparing the specialists in SMO promotion.
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