Before Belarusian voters went to the polls for the March 2006 presidential election, incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka had taken steps to guarantee that the voting would be a meaningless exercise which he could not lose, but could use in order to claim the "democratic" legitimacy he needs. Despite the disappointment that the opposition must feel after its defeat, the outburst of political protest and social activism that the opposition campaign called forth offers reason to take heart. Advocates of political change can still raise the costs of repression and strengthen the democratic movement in preparation for future opportunities to advance the cause of freedom.