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The Belarusian Maidan in 2006

A New Social Movement Approach to the Tent Camp Protest in Minsk


Vasily Naumov

The book offers an analysis of the «Belarusian Maidan» protest movement that emerged in Minsk at the October Square as a result of the falsification of the presidential elections in March 2006. In particular, the author analyses the virtual dimension of the movement and its creativity by applying the New Social Movement approach elaborated by Melucci. He also presents an in-depth analysis through the use of Deleuzian concepts. The «Belarusian Maidan» is inscribed into the historical context of Belarusian social activism of 1990–2006, amid the increasing influence of new ICTs and the Internet.
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Chapter II. Molarization and Molecular Processes of the Tent Camp


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Chapter II. Molarization and Molecular Processes of the Tent Camp

Introductory Remarks

The outburst of mass protests after the presidential elections in 2006 took both authorities and representatives of the opposition by surprise. At first, the authorities were reluctant to brutally disperse the crowd, as they tried to show Western countries that a moderate expression of political disagreement was tolerated and respected in Belarus (though they still used subtle practices to undermine the organization of the protest). However, they resorted to force four days after the Tent Camp was pitched, as the participants of the protest were adamant to stay at the square as long as it was possible.

Although most Belarusian social theorists simply compare the Tent Camp protest to the Ukrainian Maidan (e.g. Bykowski, 2006; Miniankou, 2006; Melyantsou, 2008), my thesis here is that we are dealing with a unique type of social activism that can be described as a spontaneous formation of rhizomorphic assemblage. Firstly, the contingent of all those taking part in the collective action was mixed; protesters did not belong to a single political force. Secondly, their actions were not previously planned; thirdly, participants did not have clear political goals (although some of them have suggested some goals in their blogs). Fourthly, they demonstratively refused the representation of their interests by any political leaders, i.e. Alyaksandr Kazulin and Alaksandar Milinkevich. Finally, even after the arrest, the protesters continued to form assemblages with all of those...

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