Saturday, March 18, 2006

As of March 16, some 550 foreign journalists have been accredited to cover the election in Belarus, according to LJ user idridze (in Russian).

It reminded me of December 2004 in Kyiv, and I went looking for the post in which I mentioned how many foreign journalists were accredited by our foreign ministry then: more than 1,700.

Amazing, but it turned out to be the same post in which I wrote about our encounter with a Belarusian opposition activist living in a "tent city" on Khreshchatyk:

This Belarusian man we talked to was a seasoned opposition fighter, middle-aged, with a few inexplicable scratches on his face. He's been through a 15-day arrest after the recent referendum and through a hunger strike at a preliminary detention center several years earlier, which ended at a hospital emergency room when his kidneys stopped functioning. He said bad things about some Belarusian opposition leader whose name I don't remember - some guy who encouraged people to go to the polls to vote in the bogus referendum, even though the results had been known at least a year in advance. He said he was sure that the current Ukrainian revolution would soon be repeated in Belarus. "If it wasn't for Russia's special services support, Lukashenko wouldn't last a month in Belarus, because most people don't want him there," he said.

I hope everything will end well for all of them over there.

Also, now I understand what it was like to watch Ukraine in 2004 for those who were not here: I'm glued to my computer and I'm really nervous something would go wrong in Minsk on Sunday and there'll be violence and, God forbid, casualties. I'm glued even though nothing's really happening yet, nothing but arrests and intimidation campaign - and endless conversations about that.

Oh, and I still don't know which of the opposition leaders that guy was talking about. Could it be Milinkevich?

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