Lukashenko considering amnesties in Belarus
Among a number of interesting developments in Belarus in recent days, the Minsk based news agency BelaPAN reported Wednesday that the authorities were considering granting amnesties to certain categories of prisoners. It was not clear whether this would include political prisoners. But given Lukashenko's new found enthusiasm for better relations with the West we should be watching to see what transpires here. He may be considering a high profile gesture. On the other hand, of course, he may be considering no such thing. The security forces were up to their old tricks yesterday, detaining at least 10 opposition activists after a 200 strong Valentine's Day demonstration led by the Young Front grouping.
Separately, Alexander Milinkevich, the leading figure in the Belarusian opposition, told BelaPAN that he had received several positive responses to his open letter (sent on February 7) to President Lukashenko from government officials, though nothing so far from Lukashenko himself. The fact that Milinkevich has received any response at all from high ranking officials (unnamed in the report) may be significant because it could indicate a lack of confidence inside the regime about the regime's long term viability. We must be careful not to raise false hopes. But we also need to be following such developments to see where, if anywhere, they might lead.
In a clever, though high risk, ploy to take advantage of Lukashenko's current difficulties Milinkevich called in the letter on government and opposition forces to come together at a rally marking Belarusian independence on March 25. His aim was to sew division and uncertainty iniside the regime and to present the opposition as a legitimate part of Belarusian society.
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