It’s six months since the fraudulent election in Belarus sparked mass protests against Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime. The collapse of his statist model of capitalism has fed mass discontent with his rule — but the liberal opposition’s own promises of change also drew skepticism among working-class Belarusians.
Alexey Sakhnin is a Russian activist and a member of the Left Front. He was one of the leaders of the anti-Putin protest movement from 2011 to 2013. He later emigrated to Sweden and lived as an exile there, before returning to Russia to continue his work as a left oppositional activist and journalist. He is also a member of the Progressive International Council.
The arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has sparked mass protests against Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism. Navalny’s journalism has highlighted the cronyism of Russia’s elites — but his chameleon-like shifts between liberalism and anti-immigrant nationalism show he’s no champion of working-class Russians.
Today, Russians vote in a constitutional referendum designed to give Vladimir Putin a fresh burst of legitimacy. His feeble response to the coronavirus pandemic has ruined his “strongman” reputation — and it’s feeding a growing mood of popular discontent.
The movement in Russia against Putin’s authoritarian government is dominated by one man: the right-wing populist Alexey Navalny.
In the heated propaganda war between Russia and the “West,” rationality is in short supply.