Though by now we are all thoroughly aware of Putin's imperialist bloodshed in Ukraine, few are aware of the ongoing efforts of activists within his own bloc to combat the war. Few outside of Europe are aware of the fact that there is an energetic resistance to the conflict in Belarus, for example, the regime of which is actively supporting this mindless war. Anarchists and socialists are among those who are doing their best to overturn the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko, whose government is supported only by the Putin regime. The International Week of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners should remind us of the many activists in Belarus who have been imprisoned for their activity against Putin's war and for their participation in the 2020 protests against the regime.
Lukashenko is one of the many parasitic bureaucrats who exploited the counter-revolution in the USSR to enrich themselves through the pain and misery of the post-Soviet population. Since taking state power, he has ruthlessly attacked anyone who challenges his power, even retaining the name of the Soviet KGB to describe the secret police who have maintained his dictatorship since 1994.
Neoliberals hypocritically call him Europe's last dictator, but it isn't far from the truth -- the bastard's even proud of it: a decade ago he boasted, "You came here and looked at a living dictator. Where else would you see one?" In 2020 Lukashenko staged what was supposed to be a mock election to justify his own rule: instead he was faced with a crushing defeat at the hands of his liberal opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Rather than concede, he launched an intense police assault on the defiant Belarusian public, successfully smashing massive demonstrations in Minsk with riot cops of the Special Purpose Police Detachment (OMON).
In the midst of those 2020 protests hundreds of protesters were forced into the regime's prisons, where many still remain. We haven't forgotten them. For their participation in the 2020 revolt against the dictatorship, several members of the anarchist group Pramen- Aliaksandr Bialou, Jauhen Rubashka and Artsiom Salavei- are facing up to five years in prison. According to some accounts, Rubashka has been tortured repeatedly.
As Pramen notes, "anarchist ideas and values are the fuel for collective resistance. Unsurprisingly the repression against anarchists is increasing and solidarity is needed more than ever. The capitalist system of domination can function because of the continued isolation between people, endless competition, and overlook our real needs and desires. We need solidarity within our friendships, at work, in the neighborhood, in our communities. Those outside and those inside their walls."
On March 22 this year, police raided the homes of a dozen anarchists and antifascists in Mozyr. While most were given brief administrative sentences of 10-15 days, two remain in prison - Anna Pyshnik and Kita Cherenkova. The GUBOPiK, a branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), claims that some of the detainees recorded Russian troop movements in Belarus and sent photos and videos to Telegram channels seen as extremist by the Belarusian state, such as NEXTA.
The GUBOPiK has been noted in the past for its abduction of opposition politicians and torture of political prisoners, particularly during the 2020-21 protests. According to the prosecution, Pyshnik is being charged on the basis of her having "shot a video of helicopters and sent it to a destructive media resource".
Cherenkova is being held under article 130 (incitement of social hatred against the police) for using her Instagram account, which boasted at the time over 15,000 followers, to criticise Lukashenko, the cops and the fratricide in Ukraine. Her detention has currently been extended to late August, meaning that her trial will likely take place in September. These comrades can all be supported concretely through organisations such as the Anarchist Black Cross -- Belarus and the 161 Crew in Poland.
We'll only suffer bastards like Lukashenko and Putin as long as the working class internationally fails to understand its collective strength. In 1938, Australian wharfies affiliated with the Waterside Worker's Federation refused to load ships with materials that could be utilised in the Japanese imperial slaughter in China, which infamously included the Rape of Nanjing. Earlier this year, American and Canadian wharfies affiliated with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to load Russian vessels in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. It isn't the sort of xenophobic rubbish that Murdoch and his toy journos like to bombard us with that will defeat imperialism. It's not the lies that Labor hands down while they're happily accommodating arms companies and war hysteria, or the Green party's deafening middle-class obsession with elections. It's working class solidarity that gives us actual hope. No war but class war.
We must stand in solidarity with people like Rubashka, Pyshnik and Cherenkova. From Australia to Belarus -- our war against war is a working class and internationalist project. As we pointed out in February, "the spectre of 1917 needs to be made a reality again. The best defense against imperialist wars will always be a powerful, militant working class and the fear of revolution that brings."