The fight by working people to bring down the dictatorial regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus found a new outlet this month after mass protests and work stoppages last year were beaten down by government brutality. The monthslong political crisis there resurfaced over the country’s official entry into the Eurovision Song Contest. The controversial song, “I’ll Teach You,” by the pro-Lukashenko band Galasy ZMesta, openly mocks the protesters.
The front man of Galasy ZMesta, Dzmitry Butakov, laments the breakup of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union. The song’s refrain includes, “I’ll teach you how to dance to the tune / I’ll teach you to take the bait / I’ll teach you to toe the line.”
After an outcry both from inside Belarus and across Europe, the Eurovision organizers rejected the official Belarus entry March 11.
Lukashenko’s regime was shaken to the core last year as hundreds of thousands took to the streets and strikes spread across the country after he claimed victory in rigged presidential elections. Lukashenko has been in power for more than 26 years. Since the mass protests began, more than 33,000 people have been arrested, hundreds beaten and a number of people killed by the regime’s police. Many protest and strike leaders, as well as Lukashenko’s bourgeois electoral opponents, have been imprisoned or forced into exile.
A film about the opulent lifestyle and wealth of the Belarusian strongman was viewed online over 4 million times after it was released March 8, sparking renewed outrage.
Neighborhood protests continue, especially in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. On March 10 more than 100 people were detained after police raided a number of apartment blocks.
The Lithuanian government has spurned Lukashenko’s demand to extradite Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, widely seen to have won the 2020 elections, to face charges.