An axiom of history is that it can be difficult to perceive paradigm shifts when you’re living through them. Nonetheless, there’s certainly a strong whiff of change in recent events surrounding Belarus, events that broadly reflect just how far we’ve come from the West’s ‘end of history’ moment after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In auditing the recent Belarus affair, the first major point that stands out is just how brazen the ‘state-sponsored hijacking’ and arrest of blogger Roman Protasevich actually was. Protasevich, a journalist and longstanding opposition figure who was deemed a terrorist by the Belarusian authorities in 2020, took a plane bound from Athens to Vilnius, two EU capitals. Ultimately neither his democratic credentials nor his physical presence in the EU were enough to save him from the Belarusian security services, and now he finds himself in a prison back home faced with a 15-year sentence.