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Lukashenko wins the election, but his biggest fight may be yet to come

The coronavirus pandemic has weakened the President of Belarus’ position; he now needs Russia as a friend, not an enemy.

Belarus Election

Johanna Ross, journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland…

Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko may have won a solid victory with 80.23% of the vote, according to the election commission, but the ground on which he is standing is not as firm as it once was. The President of Belarus says a hybrid war is being waged against his nation by outside forces; opposition activists claim he has rigged this weekend’s election result.

A night of protests followed the presidential election vote, after which opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, rejected her meagre 9.9% of the vote, stating ‘I will believe my own eyes – the majority was for us’. Tikhanovskaya, the wife of a YouTube blogger who was prevented from running in the election, has no previous political experience, but her message of change for Belarus and dissatisfaction with the current leadership clearly resonated with many.

The fact that a Belarussian housewife managed to pose any threat at all speaks volumes about the fragility of Lukashenko’s position. The President’s words and actions of late have raised eyebrows across the international arena, including surprise and dismay from Russia, after he accused his ally of sending mercenaries to support the opposition in the run-up to the election. Russian journalists from various news outlets were also held by police.

Russia’s President Putin, forever the diplomat, congratulated the Belarussian President with his election win and said that he was counting on the further development of mutually beneficial relations between the two nations. Gently reminding Lukashenko of their joint responsibilities as participants of the Eurasian Economic Union and also their military ties in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, he spoke of Russia and Belarus as ‘brotherly nations’ with mutual goals. Nevertheless, the protests which have dominated the headlines in the last days will perturb the Kremlin. It is neither in Russia’s or Belarus’ interest to see the instability which raged in Ukraine after the Euromaidan protests took hold in 2014, leading to a disastrous power grab by the opposition.  And yet this election campaign in Belarus has unleashed widespread exhibitions of social discontent which are proving difficult to pacify.

Levels of dissatisfaction with the current leadership peaked earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the country.  President Lukashenko initially refused to accept the disease existed, branding the virus back in April as a ‘psychosis which will benefit some people and will harm others’. When questioned on his participation in an ice hockey game in the midst of the pandemic, he responded in an extraordinary way by saying ‘there are no viruses here, have you not seen that there are none flying about?’. As the death toll began to rise, Belarussians began to take matters into their own hands, maintaining social distancing and closing down cafes and restaurants of their own accord.

With no lockdown imposed it is surprising that the number of cases in Belarus has not exceeded the official 68,947 to date. But doubt has been cast on the reliability of official data. Earlier this year, a Russian journalist for Channel One reported on the lack of trust Belarussians had in official information on coronavirus as he showed footage of an abundance of freshly dug graves in the town of Stolbtsy. The incident led to the journalist losing accreditation from Belarussian authorities, in a move condemned by the Russian state broadcaster as ‘completely unfounded’. The matter left a stain on the countries’ relations.

President Lukashenko for his part has said that relations between his nation and Russia will not be ruined by third parties and that ‘if someone is waiting for our relations to sour, they are making a mistake’. Currently the internet is restricted in the country, with people only able to access news via state media TV channels or the Telegram app.  Lukashenko has said that the perpetrators of the internet block are foreign saboteurs, keen to escalate social tensions. Indeed it cannot be denied, that given Washington’s current strategic goals and hostility towards Russia, any attempt to undermine the Belarussian President and sow discord between Russia and Belarus would be in its interest.

Foreign agents or otherwise, Minsk is preparing itself for another wave of social unrest as demonstrators plan to continue anti-government protests. It was reported that 11,000 workers in a metallurgical factory in the town of Zhlobin have gone on strike in response to opposition calls and more such walkouts may be seen in the coming days.  Lukashenko may have won the election, but his biggest fight to retain power it seems, is yet to come. And for that, he’ll want Russia on his side.

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theOrder1814
theOrder1814
August 13, 2020

Sorry about this off topic issue but Twitter has warnings when using a link to your website

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peter mcloughlin
August 13, 2020

Over a century – and two world wars – later, mankind is facing yet another total war, this time ultimately nuclear. Belarus is as good a flash-point as any, and there many, to get the dominos falling. Washington may have strategic interests in destabilizing Belarus. But the possible consequences will serve no one’s interests.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

 “The President of Belarus says a hybrid war is being waged against his nation by outside forces”

Lukashenko has let these forces into Belarus himself, by flirting with the EU for quite a while. Looking at the fate of Ukraine, he should have known that it is best to keep the US and EU out and continue to form a strong alliance with Russia. He will know better in the future, I hope.

Last edited 1 month ago by Olivia Kroth
jpthiran
jpthiran
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

I love your conspiracy theories but it never crossed your mind that Lukashenko is just a brutal, corrupt and incompetent ruler that has kept his people in a absurd poverty (6.600 USD per capita!) and that the population can’t stand him anymore ?..

Olivia Kroth
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

TASS:

Lukashenko says protests were orchestrated from Poland, UK, Czech Republic

https://tass.com/world/1187689

Last edited 1 month ago by Olivia Kroth
Olivia Kroth
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

TASS:

Several people detained during protest in front of Belarusian embassy in Moscow

https://tass.com/society/1189487

Olivia Kroth
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

THE MOSCOW TIMES:

Russia launches criminal case against belarussian extremist

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2016/07/12/russia-launches-criminal-case-against-belarussian-nationalist-a54546

jpthiran
jpthiran
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

lol…sp the news regarding Belarus come from Russia!…that is precissely what Belarus people want to finish with!…misery and Russian opression, done by the Belarus pupet Lukashenco!…

Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

After the presidential elections on Sunday, the independent state of Belarus is experiencing its worst political crisis to date. The escalating situation is reminiscent of the Maidan in Kiev, in 2013. This is exactly what the USA and its NATO vassal states are aiming at with their ideological propaganda war, and the reporting in western media is accordingly now. In imperialism there are no partners – there are only vassals and lackeys, or opponents and competitors. Russia and China are the main competitors of the USA / NATO vassals on the desired path to world domination. Here is an example… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

It has been known for a long time that with the help of Western secret services attempts are made again and again to stage a Maidan in Belarus, similar to the one in Kiev. But the election result is convincing: President,A. Lukashenk, was elected again with 80% of the votes. The defeated candidate Tichanovskaya naturally does not want to accept this election result but that is her personal problem. The vast majority of the Belarusian people want to live in peace, they do not want a fascist coup, as in Ukraine, and they reject imperialism. The memory of the Great Patriotic… Read more »

jpthiran
jpthiran
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
August 14, 2020

darling, the only fascists in power are Putin and Lukashenko…ex-comunists transvested in Fascists, but the Dictator system is the same and leades to the same results…brutality and poverty…put that in you head !…

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