Lukashenko's Regime Threatened

After the December 2010 elections in Belarus democratic activists and opponents of Belarus's newly 're-elected' President Alexander Lukashenko raised a storm over what they deemed to be fraud elections. President Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994, was re-elected into office with more than 80% of the nation's votes. More than 700 people were arrested after the elections. Most of the arrested came from demonstrations in the capital of Minsk against the government.

The December protests became December clashes between Belarus activists and state police as indiscriminate injuries and arrests were abound as police used a variety of methods and tools (stun grenades, nightsticks, and vice versa) to beat down protestors and speculators alike.

The "riots" had two presidential candidates injured and gave an excuse for the Belarus government to raid offices and homes of suspected activists who took part in the protests. Swiftly, the government shut down a few independent presses and tightened its restrictions on the people.

Besides activists and political opponents, human rights organisations that have criticized the Belarus government of holding illegitimate elections were also raided. Currently, Vladimir Nekliayev, one of the candidates who ran in 2010, was beaten, incarcerated and now put under house arrest for "attempting to organize" mass riots on December 19th, the election day.

After sternly condemning Belarus' actions in handling the protesters, the European Union and the United States of America imposed sanctions on Belarus including a travel ban on major government officials including President Lukashenko and even the freezing of assets for the Belarus government. Many have described this situation as a big "test for Europe". Poland has become the centre and rally point of the international protests against Lukashenko's regime.

Just today, multiple European governments pledged more than $120 million in aid to opposition groups in Belarus at the Warsaw Conference. Poland is currently the single largest financial donor of dissidents in Belarus. Poland's annual pro-dissident budget roughly equals U.S. financial support of more than $10-$15 million. Furthermore, the European Union announced today that it would be increasing its aid to $21 million.

The Lukashenko government has decried the Warsaw Conference as an "open provocation" especially after Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland's Foreign Minister, openly declared that Lukashenko was "losing" and that "sooner or later [Lukashenko] will be forced to flee before [his] fellow citizens and seek shelter in another country." Minister Sikorski also blatantly compared the Belarusian political situation to those of Tunisia's and Egypt's and the government of Belarus to the former government of Tunisia which was recently ousted by the Tunisian people.

The Lukashenko government also accused Poland of trying to "redraw" the political map of Poland-Belarus borders admist the "din of injustice".


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