Belarus: Europe’s last dictator struggles to stay in power

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
NEW DELHI Updated: Aug 25, 2020, 07:36 AM(IST)

Protests in Belarus over strongman Lukashenko's election Photograph:( Agencies )

Story highlights

As Europe’s last dictator struggles to stay in power, the world is watching Belarus closely.Lukashenko’s fall will have big political implications. Russia perhaps will feel the pain most strongly.

At least 200,000 people gathered at Minsk’s independent square over the weekend. They demanded the resignation of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko has maintained a tight grip on power by retaining much from the country’s Soviet past. 

Lukashenka is 65 years old, he has spent 26 years as the president of Belarus but the old man's thirst for power is unquenched.

When a 37-year-old Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya challenged him in the August 9 polls, Lukashenko forged the results and triggered a revolution.

Now, all bets are against Lukashenko and his fall is imminent.

The uprising in Belarus has already erupted last week in a democratic vacuum, in a country where challengers to President Alexander Lukashenko are jailed or exiled and where there is no experienced parliamentary opposition.

But the dictator lives in denial, publicly denouncing the protesters as 'rats' and secretly fearing them.

On Sunday, Lukashenko flew over a sea of protesters wearing a bullet proof jacket. He landed in the presidential palace brandishing a rifle.

Belarus has become a global headline, 50,000 Lithuanians formed a human chain in support of Belarusians. The chain was 30 kilometers long and stretched all the way from Vilnius to the Belarus border.

Among the participants was Lithuania’s President- Gitanas Nauseda.

Speaking from Vilnius, exiled leader Tsikhanouskaya said-- Lukashenko's fall is only a matter of time.

"Belarusian people have changed during this year and even if he (President Alexander Lukashenko) does (go ahead with inauguration), Belarusian people will not accept him as new president and now our people are absolutely different and I am sure that sooner or later he will have to leave,” She said. 

The 37-year-old has baffled political pundits by challenging a 26-year-old dictatorship. One year ago, Tsikhanouskaya was just another Belarusian housewife. Today, and she sees herself as a symbol of change.

Russia believes that the polls in Belarus were fair and Tsikhanouskaya only interested in creating disunity in the country.

"In the absence of the (election) observers that the west considers to be independent it's very difficult to convince someone that the result of the presidential elections was diametrically opposed to what was announced,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russia and China are the only countries rallying behind Lukashenko.

As Europe’s last dictator struggles to stay in power, the world is watching Belarus closely.

Lukashenko’s fall will have big political implications. Russia perhaps will feel the pain most strongly.

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