• Three Minutes

The Turmoil in Belarus

Belarus has had a problematic past. It was one of the hardest-hit countries during World War II. The Chernobyl Accident had a devastating impact on the land, and now another political crisis has emerged which threatens to tamper with the fundamental freedom of the people.

It is now facing one of the biggest political crisis in its post-Soviet history.

Stay with us for the next three minutes, and we’ll tell you what it is about.

The public has taken to streets in Belarus. Women are wearing white, and human chains have been formed, all in protest of the presidential elections that took place on Sunday, 9 August 2020.

According to the official central election commission, longstanding leader Alexander Lukashenko, who came into power in 1994 won 80% of the vote - a result rejected by the opposition.

And we all know that no political leader is good enough for such an extended rule. Mr Lukashenko, although it is quite different. The US Bush administration described him in 2005 as the "last dictator in Europe", at the head of an "outpost of tyranny".

Another interesting point to note here is that since 1995, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OECD) has not recognised any elections in Belarus as free and fair.

The public protests against this election had increased exponentially in the days leading up to the election. Protests were marred with police brutality and treated inhumanely. This fuelled the protests even further, and the opposition was cracking down hard on the government. The leading figure in the opposition currently is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who stood in for her husband as an opposition candidate after he was jailed in the run-up to the vote.

But things aren’t so easy. Just days before the vote, Svetlana fled from Belarus later implying that she fears threats to the lives of her children. This conjecture was strengthened when after fleeing the country, she dropped a message on a pro-government channel on the messaging app Telegram shared a video of Tikhanovskaya quietly reading from a piece of paper and calling on Belarusians to cease protests. In the video, she insisted that "the nation has made its choice" -- a complete reversal from her claim that the election was rigged.

Along with Mr Lukashenko's longstanding authoritarian rule, the people of Belarus have suffered from years of economic stagnation. In recent months, his refusal to take measures against the COVID-19 crisis has also driven discontent. That has been compounded by authorities effectively preventing several opposition candidates entering the presidential race.

But the action has been set against the background of Moscow's continuing influence on the country, almost 30 years after the dissolution of the Soviet bloc it was part of.

Vladimir Putin takes an active interest in the country, and there are a plethora of opposition leader cropping up, each with a new promise and a new agenda. Yet it is the people of Belarus who stand on the frontline and are exposed to horrifying police violence.

Commentators believe that the political future of Belarus remains bleaks and without Svetlana standing with the people, it is highly likely that Lukashenko government will misuse its power to bring this revolution to a gory end.

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