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This article combines insights from the literatures on revolutions and nonviolent protest with empirical analysis of recent developments in Belarus to assess the causes and outcomes of the Belarusian Revolution. It makes three interrelated arguments. First, structural conditions—the decline of the paternalist model of state-society relations and ongoing societal modernization—were the fundamental cause of the revolution. The popular revolt, in turn, was triggered by a set of tactical mistakes on the part of the ruling regime. Second, while the personalist regime showed its vulnerability, the opposition’s ideological, leadership, and organizational deficiencies, as well as the unfavorable international context, facilitated the regime’s survival in the short term. Finally, although the regime cannot return to the status quo ante and will apparently depart from the scene, there is an imminent risk that the domestic impasse will be broken by external actors, namely Russia, thus preventing the revolution from achieving its goals.


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