Putin threatens to send 'police' to Belarus: Archbishop of Minsk protests against Church blockade

If Alexander Lukashenko’s everlasting government thought it had it easy, it was fooled.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz of Minsk

Newsdesk (August 28, 2020 Gaudium Press)  Belarus; a serious problem, for many.

In case the everlasting government of Alexander Lukashenko, (in power since 1994) and his allies ( mainly the Russians, and more recently the Chinese as well), thought they would have it easy, as in previous opportunities, they were fooled.

It is the consensus in all the countries that are not unconditional to the regime that the elections of last Aug 9 were fraudulent. The violence used by the regime repressing the protest demonstrations was also widely condemned. Not by chance, Belarus is been called ‘the last European tyranny’….

Lukashenko knows of the weakness of his regime; and no matter how many theatrical gestures he tries, his weakness is evident. But ‘theatrics’ do not mean mere charades: lunatics and actors can sometimes kill.

In fact, what he did last weekend, went out of all the scripts: flying in his helicopter to reach the protesters , called them “rats”,  and – followed by a heavy handed body guards, of course – he threatened them with a long Kalashnikov rifle.

Putin threatens too

We insist. Lunatics can also kill. Namely after Vladimir Putin’s statement today that the Kremlin has prepared a group of police officers to support Lukashenko if necessary: “He asked me to organize a special reserve of law enforcement officers, and I did (…) But we also agreed that it will not be used unless the situation gets out of control,” Putin said in an interview with a state channel.

The Russian leader continued: “we are convinced that all participants in this process will have the good sense to find a way out”; a way out that should not cause Russia’s displeasure, certainly. For some, this indicates a new Prague spring in the horizon, 2020 Edition, this time from Minsk…

But the circumstances seem quite different. The West does not seem ready to see Belarus turning into a forced colony of a ‘Post Perestroika’ mother Russia.

On the contrary, the protests continue, and are increasing. What is unfolding is an awakening of Minsk,  this time not being viewed with indifference by the West.

The Church has not been indifferent either

In all this tumult, the Church has not been indifferent either. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk has already been a leading voice. On Aug 19th he walked to the detention center on Akrestsin Street, where many of the 9th protesters were still being held; walked around the center, prayed a Divine Mercy rosary and wanted to enter but was prevented from doing so. He had already asked, with no results, that priests be allowed to give spiritual assistance to the detainees.

Read also: Archbishop of Minsk, Belarus, prays outside prison where protesters are detained

Yesterday, Bishop Kondrusiewicz has lodged his protests after anti-riot police prevented people from entering the Church of Saints Simon and Helen:

“In accordance with the constitution of the Republic of Belarus, people have the right to pray by freely entering and leaving the church without hindrance. Blocking the exits of the shrine and creating obstacles to the free entry and exit of people is a gross violation of the rights of believers and freedom of religion,” he said.

The blocked church is not just any church: known as the Red Church, it faces Independence Square, the focus of the protests after Lukashenko’s ‘election’. Quite a symbol.

It turns out that yesterday, Wednesday, people who were protesting in the square, pressed by the riot police , sought refuge in the temple; The authorities reportedly blocked the church doors for around 40 minutes. Around 50 arrests were made.

The blocked church is not just any church: known also as the Red Church, it overlooks Independence Square, the focus of the protests after Lukashenko’s ‘election’. Quite a symbol.

It turns out that yesterday, Wednesday, people who were protesting in the square, pressed by  the riot police, sought refuge in the temple; The authorities reportedly blocked the church doors for around 40 minutes, arresting 50 demonstrators. 

The waters are also moving in the Orthodox field

But as the trumpets sound loud and clear in the Catholic Church, the waters also move among the Orthodox.

Yesterday became official the replacement of Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus,  who is responsible of the Orthodox in White Russia.

Pavel, had taken erratic positions regarding the crisis engulfing his country. Initially, he had praised Lukashenko’s victory; layer he retracted; then he aligned himself with the Catholic Archbishop, asking that no violence be used against the protesters. Later the Belarusian Orthodox forbade their faithful from engaging in any type of demonstration, and demanded that they not interfere with the political life of the country. In short, the erratic metropolitan, seemed somewhat (Perhaps just for a while) to diverge from Moscow’s interests.

For this reason, the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate has “accepted the request” that Pavel be relieved of his duties. Certainly the new metropolitan, Benjamin, will not diverge so much from his bosses in the Russian capital.

Meanwhile, the protests continue; the situation is heating up and the whole world is in the audience, following the events almost in real time, in these times of uncensored Internet. At least for now. (Gaudium Press / Saúl Castiblanco)

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