Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Under Fire

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Under Fire

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s longest-serving ruler, is facing unprecedented opposition to his power.
The 66-year-old former Soviet farm boss claimed a sixth term as president in a widely disputed election on 9 August. He has faced weeks of mass protests against his rule.
About 100,000 people have rallied against him weekly in Minsk – by far the biggest opposition protests of his rule.
Mr Lukashenko has been in power since 1994, with an authoritarian style reminiscent of the Soviet era, controlling the main media channels, harassing and jailing political opponents and marginalising independent voices.
The country’s powerful secret police – still called the KGB – closely monitors dissidents.
Political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is now Mr Lukashenko’s main political rival. She stepped in to challenge him for the presidency after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular blogger, was barred from running and sent to jail.

She claims to have won 60-70% in places where votes were properly counted – but the president claimed a landslide victory.
None of the previous presidential elections held during Mr Lukashenko’s long reign were ever judged free and fair by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a top election monitoring body.

But the latest vote, and subsequent crackdown with thousands arrested, has sparked the widest condemnation yet.
Major opposition figures, including Ms Tikhanovskaya, are now in exile in neighbouring countries, amid a wave of arrests.
For years Mr Lukashenko has sought to convince the nation of 9.5 million that he is the best guarantor of stability, a tough nationalist protecting them from foreign meddling.
That message still appeals to many older Belarusians. The country was devastated in World War Two – victim of a Nazi scorched-earth policy – and lost nearly one-third of its population. So suspicion of foreigners and pride in the security forces play well among many voters.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Under Fire

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