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Alena Minchenia

Abstract

This article analyzes divisions within Belarusian protest communities by focusing on a particular group: the professional protesters. In Belarus, this group occupies a crucial position in between the international structures of democracy promotion and the internal attempts of political mobilization against the politics of President Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Performativity as an analytical perspective is employed to define positionality of professional protesters in relation to other political subjects and within the system of democracy promotion. The article shows implications of neoliberal rationality for social and political changes for protest communities in Belarus. It argues that the financial assistance obtained by protest professionals, as well as nondemocratic leadership style of the oppositional leaders, fills the Belarusian protest field with suspicions and accusations, add to a hierarchical and exclusionary way of participation in decision-making, and alienate activists from protest politics.