On August 8, Alexander Lukashenko was reelected for the sixth term in Belarus, allowing him to serve for five years. The incumbent confronted Sviatlana Chicanusskaya, a Belarusian human rights activist who transformed into politics after her husband was arrested in May. Tsikhanouskaya claims that she received a popularity vote of 60 to 70%, as opposed to the official result of only 10%. Taking this into account, she began organizing long-term protests and urged other countries to recognize her as president or push for a rerun.
How was the reaction of other countries? silence.
Poland and the Baltic States imposed sanctions on the opposition and provided support. However, other European countries rarely acknowledged the dangerous situation in Belarus. This is primarily due to Vladimir Putin’s warning of foreign interference from Belarus. The Kremlin is trying to take Lukasenko to power, as it guarantees that Belarus will stay tacitly under strong Russian intervention. Putin has already granted a loan worth $1.5 billion to the Belarusian dictator and, if necessary, even paid it to Russian law enforcement officers.
A month after the election, the protests don’t seem to be over. On September 13, 100,000 Belarusians fighting for democracy marched through the streets of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The dictator’s attempts to abduct and exile members of the opposition mediation committee seem to have failed embarrassingly.
The protesters waved the flags of the former Soviet Union, occupying the streets and calling out slogans calling for Lukasenko’s resignation. “We are power here” was one of the many reminders that people hold power in Belarus as well as elected officials. Police tried to end this protest, and on Sunday detained 774 protesters across the country. These arrests only added fuel to the fire above all else.
One day after 100,000 protesters blocked the streets of Minsk, Lukasenko went to Sochi, a small Russian city to meet Putin. It was his first diplomatic trip abroad since protests sparked last month. At the start of a meeting that lasted for four hours, Lukasenko told Putin, “Your friend is in trouble. I sincerely say so. Much of the agreement reached at the meeting was not disclosed, but it did not prevent Lukasenko from showing off that Putin is supporting his constitutional reform.
Many of Belarus are pro-Russians, but sooner or later the tide will change if many express dissatisfaction with the Kremlin’s position on the situation. This week Russia plans to send airborne troops to Belarus for a military exercise called “Slavic Brotherhood”. This military exercise lasts 10 days and is repeated monthly. Such strong support for the exiled Lukasenko will undoubtedly make Putin an unpopular figure in Belarus.
Tikhanovskaya, currently exiled from Lithuania, expressed his opinion on the meeting held in Sochi. On the day of the meeting, she declared, “I want to remind Vladimir Putin that your consent in Sochi will not have legal effect,” and that “any agreement with the illegal Luca Senko will be reviewed by the new government.”
That new government is now a simple fantasy for Belarusians. It is not easy to bring down the Russian-backed despotism. They need the help of other countries, especially European countries that have plunged Belarus into tyranny. Only with the help of others can the Belarusians overthrow the’last dictator of Europe’.