About the Actual Numbers and Protest Potential in Belarus

On closer inspection, it becomes clear that several tens of thousands of people who supported the Minsk Maidan are not the whole of Belarus.

Attention! Now you will read a serious text based solely on facts and figures. We will try to soberly, without any partisan bias, answer the main question of the moment: what is the real number of protesters in Belarus?

Why is this important? Because democracy is a system of power based on respect for the majority opinion. Not to the vociferousness of a minority or the eloquence of individuals, but to the will of the overwhelming number of voters. If you don’t like this kind of democracy, think of another one, and scrap 2,500 years of this practice, and we’ll see what happens.

So, the KEY point of propaganda of the Belarusian opposition is the statement that 70-80% voted for Tikhanovskaya, and only 10% for Lukashenko, respectively. Official information is thus turned literally upside down. Our task is to find out how many people are coming to the Belarusian streets now and how this compares with the figures voiced by both the opposition and the Belarusian Central Election Committee (CEC).

So, how many voters are there in Belarus?

According to the CEC — 6,880,205.

How many of them voted with an 84% turnout?

Let’s count… It turns out – 5,779,000 people.

We take the official information of votes for Tikhanovskaya (10%) and even without a calculator, we understand that this is about 600,000 people. Okay, let’s now be convinced that Lukashenko’s propaganda is monstrously false and that millions and millions of those who did NOT vote for the current president have now taken to the streets. Well, or that the propaganda is telling the truth.

Understand that the whole structure of protest is based on “millions”. If there are such numbers, then the protest is a legitimate popular protest against the usurpation of power. If there aren’t, then it’s just street riots and an attempted coup.

“History is being made right now. The whole of BELARUS took to the streets.

Employees of HUNDREDS of enterprises (including the LARGEST ONES) are on strike or making demands, and tens or even HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of PEOPLE are on the streets of the country RIGHT NOW. The authorities are trying to remain silent, and the bloody dictator Lukashenko says that we’re on strike ‘for 20 unfortunate people’.

We get thousands of messages every hour about another strike or action against violence and we just don’t have time to process them. We are immensely grateful to everyone who does not stand aside and goes to the streets or squares of their factories to defend FREEDOM.

WE ARE TOGETHER! THERE ARE MILLIONS OF US!”

NEXTA wouldn’t lie!..

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How can we estimate the number of sympathisers of the opposition? To begin with, of course, according to clear, indisputable evidence — photos and videos.

Look, on August 14, a big rally was held in Minsk – a rally that accumulated all conceivable and inconceivable facts favourable for its numbers: the people were shocked by the brutality of the police, angry with clumsy governmental propaganda, and most importantly, no one impeded them from gathering together on the main square of the capital, no one dispersed them or prevented them from coming together. Ideal, literally a laboratory experiment.

There are 1,278,000 voters in Minsk. If 70-80% voted for Tikhanovskaya, then at least 900,000 people should have come to the rally. It is clear that this is ideal. Some – old, others – ill, some need to look after their children, etc. But 450,000 should have come out, yeah? Well, 300,000! Well, at least 100,000 — less is impossible!!

And now we are looking for at least some photo or video that would show the real number of participants. We open a large report on the website “Charter 97” and try to find at least one general perspective. General, you know? From some high point, not like this:

Yes, there are many people, but HOW many? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? It is impossible to understand categorically!

But a couple of weeks ago, the opposition had no problems with showing an overall perspective. Here is the rally of Tikhanovskaya on July 30th, filmed from above, and it shows that yes, there are actually thousands of people under 50, and at the same time, if necessary, you can separate them into squares and count them from above:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bqSK4E8fec

Where is a drone when you need one? Why during all the days of the protests was not a single video with an impressive general perspective of the entire mass of protesters, the boundless human sea? Where are these images (Kiev 2014):

If you want to bet — find a video like this and prove us wrong!

Another important example of competent propaganda in conjunction with the coordination of protests is the notorious human chains. After all, it is a chain, not a crowd, that can be very long and “beautiful”, consisting of a very small number of people. A thousand people in a crowd is a square of only 30×30 meters, and that’s if you don’t stand too close. Not many! But 1,000 people in the “human chain” – this is about one and a half to two kilometers of people! Profit? Indeed!

Moreover, the oppositionists themselves DO NOT EVEN GIVE approximate numbers of participants in their events, only the most vague ones — “thousands”, “the whole city”, “a huge column”, “a large rally”, and so on. This tactic works without exception — there ARE never exact numbers.

Well, let’s say, a photo from the article with the characteristic title “All of Barysaw took to the streets”:

The population of Barysaw is 143,000 people. Think for yourself about what you see in the photo.

Gritting teeth, “Charter” refers to some extremely vague figure about yesterday’s rally as “tens of thousands of Minsk residents”. Tens are 20,000 or 90,000? It’s unclear. But even so – where are those “millions”?

Let’s connect other indirect statistics tools. Here is a musical composition that has become an unofficial anthem of the protests — “song of a cheerful Belarusian”. It is very popular among opponents of Lukashenko, because in the song it is said: “Uncle Sasha, no offence, but no one is happy to see you. Take aunt Lida and go back to hell”. Here is a great indirect indicator — it is clear that only the “target audience” listens to it. So, how many people listened to it in two months?

120,000. Not millions! 120,000 in two months — and this, of course, is not only for Belarusians, but also for other Russian-speaking audience!

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And so we are gradually finding more and more evidence that the number of the protest electorate is much closer to the figure of half a million people than four million. There are 10,000-15,000 active people in Minsk, another 20,000-30,000 in the rest of the country, and the rest are those who voted are not protesters. That is why there is no video from above, and that is why western media does not write materials with the title “130,000 people came out to protest against the Lukashenko regime”. Everything is limited to propaganda cliches “we have, we have, we have the whole city”.

But there is a final counterargument — it’s a killer one. What about the two million “NEXTA followers”? That’s a bigger number, isn’t it?

Yes and no. Because we can fully thank for this figure those who cut off most of the Internet in Belarus – no matter who it is, Lukashenko or foreign hackers. In the conditions of complete failure on the part of the official Belarusian media to control the information field in an extremely tense situation, and then completely disabling most of the media resources, Telegram channels have become the only means of informing anyone who is worried about fresh news. Anyone, you know? Imagine that the Internet will disappear in Russia, and “Swan Lake” will be on TV, and the only source of updated information will be Radio Svoboda — do you think that in the conditions of such an alternative, its audience will grow? Nope! They will spit on it, “divide by ten” all statements, but still listen and read, so as not to sit in a frightening vacuum.

Therefore, it is pointless to consider the number of subscribers of “NEXTA” outside the context of the Internet shutdown. The channel has created an ideal monopoly for growth conditions.

Somehow this is the case. Until we are shown a general perspective of rallies showing hundreds of thousands of people, but will be deceived with thin chains of people and bravura headlines “the whole city has come out” – there can be no talk of any 80% for Tikhanovskaya!


Grigory Ignatov

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