PERSONS OF THE WEEK - March 19-25, 2006
Without a doubt, the biggest news items last week were the protests in Belarus and the brutal crackdown by authorities (at least that's may opinion). Two men led drive for a free Belarus, but their different visions for the revolution may have been their undoing.
When the protests began, opposition leaders Alexander Milinkevich and Alexander Kozulin united to lead the demonstrators. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that they had their disagreements as to how the protest should progress. After a few days protesting in Oktyabyrskaya Square, Kozulin wanted to tell the protesters to go home until a massive rally on Saturday, Milinkevich wanted to stay (and so did the crowd of demonstrators). This episode showed the first sign of dissention, but it would not be the last. The culmination of the fued happened at the Saturday rally. Milkievich wanted to avoid confrontation by keeping the crowd of 10,oo0 protesters in the park where they had gathered, but Kozulin had his own plans. With about 3,00o demonstrators in tow, Kozulin led a march toward Minsk's main prison, where several hundred arrested protesters were being held. His march was confronted by a massive force of riot police who silenced the protest savage beatings and percussion grenades. Kozulin himself was detained in the event.
I've been thinking this for days, but now I'll say it: All movements with more than one leader eventually splinter, to the detrement of all. Kozulin was not half as popular as Milinkevich, yet he seemed to have insisted on joint leadership of the revolution. In the end, this rash actions ended up tearing the movement apart. Had Kozulin done the right thing and ceded the leadership of the protest to Milinkevich, I would probably still be giving updates on a massive protest in a park. Insteadm, the revolution came to a halt in Kozulin's bloody clash witth the police. A lot of people have wondered if Kozulin was planted by the government to sabotage the Denim Revolution, and I will admit to being one of them.
Lastly, let me say that I don't think that the Denim Revolution is fully over. Milinkevich remains free and I am sure that he will continue his crusade for a free Belarus. The protests got the attention of the world, which responded with increased sanctions. There will probably more protests, and I have no doubt that the dicatorship of Alexander Lukashenko will eventually fall due to their efforts. I thank the Belarussian protesters for showing the world the true meaning of courage.
ConservaGlobe's Persons of the Week are the two faces of the Belarussian opposition: Alexander Milinkevich and Alexander Kozulin.
Tags: Belarus, Milinkevich, Revolutions, Democracy, Denim Revolution, KGB, Lukashenko, Kozulin, News, Politics, Current Affairs, Democracy, Elections