Countering Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime: the strategies of the Belarusian diaspora



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Tartu Ülikool


This Master’s thesis intends to research the ways in which the Belarusian diaspora is countering Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime. After the fraudulent presidential elections and protests in 2020, the majority of the country’s civil society has fled the country and the events of 2020 led to a new wave of politicised diaspora. To study the case, this research uses qualitative methods and process tracing. The sample consists of nine interviews: seven interviews with members of the Belarusian diaspora, one interview with a foreign affairs expert/diplomat and one interview with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The analysis is based on five main themes that emerged from the theoretical framework and literature review. The results of this study show that the diaspora is using three main strategies in countering the authoritarian regime: a) raising awareness and bringing attention to the cause; b) policy-making and lobbying; and c) supporting the Belarusians and political prisoners. Furthermore, the role of utilising the ICTs is crucial in supporting the activities of the diaspora and they are used as a ‘liberation tool’. The main functions of the ICTs are a) communication tool amongst the diaspora and people living in Belarus; b) source of news and media awareness; and c) mobilisation tool. As a practical outcome, I have developed policy recommendations for Estonia and the EU based on the empirical findings of the thesis.