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World Opinions | Belarus’s movement will hopefully prevail. A U.S. president more sympathetic to democracy could help.

22:00  29 october  2020
22:00  29 october  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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FOR ABOUT three months now, demonstrators in Belarus have been detained, beaten, hit with water cannons, fired from their jobs and expelled from universities by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. Despite the punishing clampdowns, they stubbornly go on protesting Mr. Lukashenko’s theft of the last election. This is a genuine movement for democracy that just won’t quit — and hopefully will prevail.

Mr. Lukashenko, in power for a quarter-century, responded to the protests with a mixture of violence and blandishments, arresting thousands of people and beating them in prison cells, then holding a publicized meeting with some opposition leaders he had locked up. The protest movement has not yet forced Mr. Lukashenko from the president’s chair, where he remains with the backing of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, while the real victor in the Aug. 9 vote, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, is still outside Belarus.

Russian spymaster says Belarus protests fueled from abroad

  Russian spymaster says Belarus protests fueled from abroad MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign intelligence chief said Thursday during a visit to Belarus that the 2 1/2 months of protests since the country's presidential election have been fomented from abroad. Belarus has been rocked by massive demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in an Aug. 9 vote that the opposition argues was rigged. Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation with an iron fist for more than 26 years, has accused the United States and its allies of fueling the protests. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, Feb.

But Mr. Lukashenko cannot feel too cozy in that chair. He ignored an opposition demand that he resign, halt the crackdown and free political prisoners by Oct. 25. On Monday, Ms. Tikhanovskaya called for a national strike, raising the stakes. Although it did not shut down the country, thousands of workers in factories and other enterprises as well as university students heeded the call and walked out despite a heavy presence by the security services. The opposition said strike actions were taken at the oil company Belarusneft, fertilizer giant Belaruskali, three automakers, the Minsk Tractor Factory and appliance-maker Atlant. A worker at Atlant filmed a video in which he asked Mr. Lukashenko to resign and stop police brutality, and recognized Ms. Tikhanovskaya as his president — all from high on the plant’s tower, bearing the protest movement’s white and red flag. According to a Belarusian human rights group, Vyasna, about 380 people were detained across the country in the first day of the strike.

Belarus: Protesters keep up push for president's resignation

  Belarus: Protesters keep up push for president's resignation KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Several hundred women marched across the capital of Belarus in heavy rain Saturday to demand the resignation of the country's authoritarian president, continuing more than 2 1/2 months of protests against his challenged reelection to a sixth term. The demonstrations were triggered by official results giving President Alexander Lukashenko 80% of the vote in an Aug. 9 election that the opposition insists was rigged. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, has accused the United States and its allies of fomenting unrest in the ex-Soviet country.

Mr. Lukashenko announced he would treat the protestors as “terrorists” and demanded that students and professors who demonstrate be expelled from universities.

The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on Belarusian officials. But President Trump, fond of strongmen and dictators, has remained largely silent, perhaps not to offend his friend in the Kremlin. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did not hesitate to speak out in a straightforward way, declaring, “I continue to stand with the people of Belarus and support their democratic aspirations.” Mr. Biden called for a significant expansion of the sanctions.

The battle for Belarus is not over. The protesters deserve every ounce of support that democratic nations can muster. The European Parliament awarded the protest movement the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a worthy recognition of protesters’ “courage, resilience and determination.” The biggest prize will be ending Mr. Lukashenko’s rule and carrying out a peaceful transfer of power to the winner of the last election, Ms. Tikhanovskaya.

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Read more:

The Post’s View: Belarus’s leader turns to violence, the last refuge of a desperate dictator

Alice Sitnikova: We are the future of Belarus — and that future doesn’t include Alexander Lukashenko

Timothy Snyder: What Americans should learn from Belarus

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: The regime in Belarus is trying to steal our victory. It won’t succeed.

Jackson Diehl: Why people power doesn’t work like it used to

a man riding on the back of a flag: People hold up old Belarusian flags as they attend an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct. 25. © AP/AP People hold up old Belarusian flags as they attend an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct. 25.

Belarus cranks up 1st nuclear plant; Lithuania is fearful .
MOSCOW (AP) — Belarus' first nuclear power plant began operating Tuesday, a project that has spooked its neighbor Lithuania, which immediately cut off importing electricity from Belarus at the news. The Russian-built Astravyets nuclear power plant, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, has been connected to Belarus' power grid and has started producing electricity, according to Belarusian electricity operator Belenergo. Lithuanian authorities long have opposed the plant’s construction, arguing that the project has been plagued by accidents, stolen materials and mistreatment of workers.

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