An ultimatum that the Belarusian opposition has issued to President Alexander Lukashenko expires on Sunday: Get on or expect nationwide strikes and roadblocks, the threat reads.

But the question is whether the deed can also be added to the word.

Two weeks ago, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya issued an ultimatum to Lukashenko.

The president must resign, release all political prisoners and stop police brutality.

If he does not meet the requirements, the country will shut down the entire production and services sector, according to the opposition.

Tikahnovskaya confirmed her plans in a statement last Friday.

The threat is ambitious and if successful it will certainly be the biggest move since the start of the massive protests against the fraudulent elections in August, which have now been going on for ten weeks.

But analysts doubt whether enough citizens will join the plans.

The protest in Belarus has shrunk somewhat in recent weeks.

Demonstrations in the Minsk are shorter, attracting tens of thousands of supporters instead of more than a hundred thousand who had been on the move in previous weeks.

Support also appears to be less in the countryside than in the capital.

Protesters structurally prosecuted

Analysts point to the exhaustion of the protesters and an increasingly tougher stance from Lukashenko, who has no intention of leaving or compromising.

His regime recently threatened to use firearms against protesters.

Lukashenko invariably describes them as "criminals" who are funded with foreign money to cause riots.

In addition, leaders within the protest movement have been structurally arrested and prosecuted for some time.

A powerful intimidation tactic that could thwart the nationwide strike.

In recent weeks, agents have already stood by the tractor factory, arresting supporters of protesters and threatening fines and dismissal for workers.

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73-year-old woman arrested during protest in Belarus

National strike is risky

If it fails to organize a successful nationwide strike, or if it does not bear fruit quickly enough, the ultimatum could well be a "very big mistake" for the opposition, writes political scientist Kamil Klysinski of the Polish think tank OSW, who calls strike "risky".

The failure of such an ambitious action could further discourage the population.

Last Tuesday, the independent union movement set up a committee to coordinate the nationwide action, with mixed signals.

An earlier state media strike failed to gain enough momentum, while another strike at a salt factory continued for three days,

Politico

writes

.

The strike appears to be mainly necessary to force the Lukashenko to sit down with the opposition;

something he refuses so far.

Despite setting up an opposition coordination council with respected civic leaders and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, Lukashenko does not want to talk to the protesters yet

Also, few senior officials have left the government;

the security services, police and army in particular are still firmly in the hands of Lukashenko.

For the strike to succeed, more key figures will have to move to the opposition in the coming days, Belarusian analyst Ryhor Astapenia told

Politico

.

See also: Belarus expels all foreign journalists from the country for European sanctions

Why do we call Belarus Belarus from now on?

  • Since independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country has been officially called the Republic of Belarus.

    That name is therefore used in official texts.

    Belarus does more justice to what the population calls the country itself.

    Some Belarusians take offense at the name Belarus because of the association with Russia.

    Previously, we used the established name Belarus, because it is more recognizable to many readers.