August 18, 2020

Belarus

“Belarusians chanting ‘Step down!’ filled the centre of the capital Minsk on Sunday in the biggest protest so far against what they said was the fraudulent re-election a week ago of longtime president Alexander Lukashenko.” Reuters

Both sides condemn Lukashenko, and call on the US and EU to support the protestors:

“The need for a coordinated stance against Lukashenko is urgent… The U.S. and EU should warn Lukashenko that unless he agrees to hold free and fair elections, sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans that were lifted in 2016, will be reintroduced. Any new sanctions should also be broadened to include officials involved in the current crackdown… Belarusians live in the final outpost of European tyranny. They are now taking courageous action in pursuit of a better future, and they deserve the West's ready support.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The European Union and the United States have made a good start by painting the Belarus election as neither free nor fair and condemning the crackdown on demonstrators. They can do more: They can warn Mr. Lukashenko that they do not accept the official results and will not recognize him as the winner unless he calls off his thugs and there is a new and credible election. To underscore the point, Washington should hold off sending a new ambassador to Minsk. The last lesson on dictatorship should be that people will not abide tyranny forever, and that when they finally can bear no more, free people elsewhere will come to their side.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“However hard he may try, Lukashenko cannot hide the fact that he has clearly lost all legitimacy with the Belarusian people, who have put their faith in opposition challenger (and political novice) Svetlana Tikhanovskaya… The international community must demand that new elections are held under free and fair conditions. The government must first and foremost release the members of the opposition who were incarcerated during the campaign…

“In addition, the U.S. and partners should push for the government to register all candidates who meet the required standards to compete in the election; allow both international and domestic election observers to freely observe the elections and help to validate the results; open up the media to an array of diverse opinions; lift the internet shutdown; and cease the violent suppression of protests and freedom of expression.”
Stephen B. Nix, The Dispatch

“The west, and the European Union in particular, must play the crucial days and weeks to come very carefully indeed. Speaking from Lithuania yesterday, the opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, declared herself ready to lead Belarus through a transition period to a new election. EU leaders will meet in an emergency summit on Wednesday. They should calibrate their approach in consultation with Ms Tikhanovskaya and other opposition figures still in Minsk. The absolute priority should be to avoid the ramping up of EU-Russia tensions, and to give Belarusian civil society the best opportunity to control the course of future events…

“There is good reason to believe that this is the end of the line for Mr. Lukashenko. But the road ahead for a population which is demanding its democratic rights is perilous and uncertain.”
Editorial Board, The Guardian

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