Tale of Two Pandemics: How COVID-19 Exposed Governance Gaps in Authoritarian States Testimony of: Joanna Rohozińska, 'Resident Program Director Europe' [open pdf - 0B]
From the Introduction: "The COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic and attendant 'infodemic' exposed and exacerbated transparency and governance gaps across Europe and Eurasia. The pandemic was - and continues to be - an unprecedented stress test for democratic resilience, one that the Belarusian regime has failed spectacularly, demonstrating the impotence and lack of sustainability inherent in authoritarian structures. Spontaneous civic activism filled the gap left by the state's failure to address or even acknowledge the pandemic, which exposed how disconnected the country's leadership was from the concerns of its citizens. Suddenly, more than two decades since coming to power, 'batka' - Lukashenka's nickname which means father in Belarusian - was no longer the fatherly protector of the nation. He was an authoritarian relic of the Soviet past that the Belarusian people have collectively transcended. What distinguishes democracies from other forms of government is their ability to learn lessons, adapt and evolve to become more resilient and better serve the interest of the people. So far, President Lukashenka is instead opting for repression and retrenchment. Despite these authoritarian tactics the Belarusian nation has been born and garnered admiration from all corners of the world."
International Republican Institute