The Economist, November 19-25, 2005)
The opposition finds a new symbol

The Denim Revolution (The Economist, November 19-25, 2005)
The opposition finds a new symbol

They may be gimmicks, but they are ingenious ones, all the same. Belarus' opposition, keen to pep up an apathetic public against the country's autocrat, Alexander Lukashenka, has hit on two new ideas. One is to invite citizens to mark the 16th of every month by turning off their lights and placing a candle in a window.

It's hard to ask people to do much more. Overt protest is risky, and dissidents risk their jobs, freedom or even lives. The first lights-out seemed a big success: supporters said over 100,000 people took part. This week's appeared, by early signs, to be just as popular. .

The second idea is to adopt blue denim as the opposition?s colour. Thus started in September when an opposition activist, Mikita Sasim, made a flag of his denim shirt -- before being beaten unconscious by police. Belarus' democrats now hope that their search for a catchy image may be over: Ukraine had orange, Georgia chose rose, Kyrgyzstan adopted the tulip. Denim has the added advantage of having strong counter-cultural echoes: jeans in the Soviet era represented cultural freedom and western consumerism

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 17, No. 4
Copyright 2005 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.

28 december 2005