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#Belarus elections caused popular unrest

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A few days after the presidential elections in Belarus, the country is in a state of instability and political vacuum. Official bodies declared a landslide victory of Lukashenko over his competitors, 80% against 10% for the housewife Tikhanovich, writes Alexi Ivanov, Moscow correspondent.

Opponents of the government, including Svetlana Tikhanovich herself, did not recognize these results and even challenged the election results in the Central election Commission controlled by Lukashenko.  Svetlana Tikhanovich,  fearing persecution and possible arrest, fled to Lithuania, where her children have already been living for their safety. Her husband is still a prisoner of conscience and is being held under arrest in Minsk.

After the announcement of official data on the results of the vote, according to the authorities, protest actions began across Belarus. They continue to this day, despite the unprecedented brutality of the authorities.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years as an African style dictator, is clinging to power with the last of his strength. In his opinion, all the protests are the result of external collusion and manipulation of Minsk's opponents. He blames Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and, of course, Russia for the unrest.

Russia has long been the main factor of instability in Belarus, according to official authorities in Minsk. The scandal with the detention of 33 Russian citizens who were declared "mercenaries" in Minsk from the alleged private military company Wagner has long shaken the fragile and painful atmosphere of Russian-Belarusian relations. Minsk seems to have gone all-in-out to accuse Moscow of abandoning fraternal relations, which now according to Lukashenko, are of a pragmatic "partner" nature.

There are many reasons for such statements. The main point is that Minsk at a certain stage considered that Russia's insistent desire to unite with Belarus would lead to the complete loss of the latter's state sovereignty. Minsk, as you know, refused the possibility of such a Union, which is provided for by the Treaty on the creation of the Union state signed in 1999.

Belarus has been a beneficiary of Russia's generous economic and financial assistance for many years, but this has not been the basis for the prosperity of a country with very modest economic indicators.

Last year, Moscow eliminated subsidies for oil and gas supplies to Belarus, which caused hysteria in Minsk. Repeated attempts by Lukashenko to negotiate with Putin failed. Minsk announced multi-million dollar losses for the budget due to Moscow's actions. But the question hung in the air.

Returning to the elections in Belarus, it should be noted that the results of the vote were denounced by the majority of the EU and the  USA. It is clear that the state machine totally controlled by Lukashenko could not produce any other result.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that the main victims in this situation are the patient and hard-working people of Belarus.

There is no doubt that with the help of special police forces, Lukashenko will suppress popular anger and make it endure for another 5 years. But what will become of the country?

Belarus has long been in international isolation and under sanctions. It is logical that the EU and the US will tighten these sanctions.

However, Minsk does not seem to be very upset about this. Putin congratulated Lukashenko on his election victory. This means that Minsk has a new chance to survive and continue its course.

But what will happen to the people of Belarus? Must the people still remain silent for the sake of the ghostly paradise promised by the chief?

Belarus

Belarus opposition leader wants international tribunal to probe Lukashenko

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Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks at Czech Senate in Prague, Czech Republic, June 9, 2021. Roman Vondrous/Pool via REUTERS
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks at Czech Senate in Prague, Czech Republic, June 9, 2021. Roman Vondrous/Pool via Reuters

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (pictured) called on Wednesday (9 June) for an international tribunal to be set up to investigate what she called the “crimes” of President Alexander Lukashenko’s “dictatorship”, Reuters.

Lukashenko has kept a tight grip on Belarus since rising to power in 1994, and has cracked down on street protests that began last year over a presidential election which his opponents say was rigged so that he could retain power.

Lukashenko, who denies electoral fraud and dismisses criticism of his human rights record, extended the crackdown on Tuesday by signing legislation on tougher punishment, including prison sentences, for people who take part in protests or insult state officials. Read more

"I call for an international tribunal to be set up which would investigate the crimes of Lukashenko's dictatorship in the past and during the election in 2020," Tsikhanouskaya, who is now based in Lithuania, told the Czech Senate.

Tsikhanouskaya, who met Czech President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis during her visit to the Czech Republic, gave no other details of her proposal.

She said the only solution to the situation in Belarus was holding free elections with international monitors.

Tsikhanouskaya was visiting Prague before a summit of the Group of Seven advanced economies in Britain this week at which Belarus is expected to be discussed.

The former Soviet republic outraged Western countries last month by ordering a Ryanair flight to land in the capital Minsk and arresting a dissident journalist who was on board.

Lukashenko has dismissed Western criticism over the incident, and accused Western countries of waging a "hybrid war" against him. The United States and the European Union are preparing to tighten sanctions on Belarus over the plane incident. Read more

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Belarus

Belarus’s Tsikhanouskaya calls on EU, UK, US to jointly pressure Lukashenko

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The United States, Britain and the European Union should act jointly to put more pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government, opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (pictured) told Reuters on Friday (4 June), writes Joanna Plucinska.

Tsikhanouskaya made the comments during a visit to Warsaw, Poland ahead of a summit of the G7 rich countries in Britain next week, at which she hopes issues raised by the Belarusian opposition will be addressed. Belarus has shot up the international agenda since it forced down a Ryanair flight over its air space and arrested an opposition journalist last month.

"Pressure is more powerful when these countries are acting jointly and we are calling on [the] UK, the USA, the European Union and Ukraine. They have to act jointly so their voice will be more loud," Tsikhanouskaya said.

France has said it would like to invite the Belarusian opposition to the G7 summit, if host country Britain agrees. Britain has said there are no plans to invite further delegations, but that Belarus would be discussed.

Tsikhanouskaya said she had not been invited to the summit but expected Belarus would be discussed there.

Britain, the United States and the European Union all imposed bans and asset freezes on some Belarus officials after an election last year that the opposition says was rigged.

Since the Ryanair incident, Western countries have discouraged their airlines from flying over Belarus and said they will take other steps, such as barring Belarusian airlines and adding more names to their blacklists.

Some opposition figures have called for stronger measures that would have an impact on the overall Belarusian economy, such as restrictions on imports of minerals or oil from Belarus.

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Aviation/airlines

EU bans Belarusian carriers from its airspace and airports

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The Council today (4 June) decided to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in relation to Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds.

EU member states will deny Belarusian air carriers (and marketing carriers who have a codeshare with a Belarusian carrier) permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories.

Today’s decision follows up on the European Council conclusions of 24 and 25 May 2021, in which EU heads of state and government strongly condemned the unlawful forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 endangering aviation safety.

The downing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk was carried out with the express intent of detaining journalist Raman Pratasevich who has been critical of Lukashenko’s regime and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

The Council is also assessing possible additional listings of persons and entities on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework, and further targeted economic sanctions.

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