This sad backstory, combined with Lukashenko's undeniable skill at intrigue, helps to explain why Belarus has ended up where it is. The majority of Belarusians clearly aren't happy with their present situation, but most now respond by hunkering down. Independent polling suggests that around 30 percent still support Lukashenko, while 15 percent side with the opposition; the rest have sunk into a profoundly apolitical apathy. Many Belarusians are voting with their feet, thronging into the European Union for any jobs they can find. (One big difference from Soviet days is that people can now travel more or less freely -- as long as they can get visas.) "We're a country of partisans," says Reviaka wryly. "We're very good at hiding in the bushes."
Perhaps. But there's no question that many Belarusians would welcome a way out of their current stagnation. The European Union already has a Nobel Prize of its own. How about giving Bialiatski a Nobel Prize? Now that would send a breath of fresh air through this musty corner of Europe.