One Big Thing: Is it time for a new President in Belarus?
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What is it?
- Following Sunday’s rigged presidential election, people in Belarus have taken to the streets calling for Aleksander Lukashenko to step down from the presidency after 26 years in power.
- Belarus’s security forces responded to protesters with violence and repression, at leaving least one person dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested.
- Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was forced to flee the country to Lithuania. She stood in for her jailed husband as a candidate and was able to unite the opposition to challenge Lukashenko.
Why is it important?
- Lukashenko has been called the “last dictator in Europe” since he’s been the country’s only president since the collapse of the Soviet Union and has held onto that position through rigged elections.
- Previous fraudulent elections did not cause this type of mass reaction. Opposition leader/candidate Tikhanovskaya drew thousands of supporters during her campaign, energizing the populace never seen in recent memory.
- Lukashenko has backed himself into a corner after angering Belarusians, arresting Russian mercenaries and rejecting the west.
- Since taking office in 1994, Lukashenko has created an environment of fear and repression as he has repeatedly arrested opposition leaders, harassed independent media and passed laws to limit freedom of assembly.
What can you do?
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