Belarus Continues to Demonstrate What “Rigged” Elections Look Like

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Composite image by the author.

Riley Landowski, International Affairs

Back in August, Belarus held elections which seemingly resulted in the sixth consecutive re-election of Alexander Lukashenko. But in recent months hundreds of students from the universities of Minsk have participated in demonstrations protesting the continued rule of President Lukashenko.  

The police there routinely use excessive force against protesters, including water cannons, stun grenades, and truncheons. From this, the EU sanctioned Belarus for their use of force against peaceful protesters, according to the Associated Press.

The “winning” of this election puts Lukashenko into his 26th year in office having won his first term in 1994 according to a BBC report . The election results themselves have been accused of being rigged, as decades of unpopular and highly criticized rule still somehow brought the former Soviet party member 80% of the entire popular vote.

In a page right out of the Russian playbook, the opposition group then had falsified charges brought against them and were forced into exile. Lukashenko’s most powerful secret police is even still called the KGB, calling back to the time of authoritarian rule of communism no more than 3 decades ago. George Bush said in a BBC article from 2005 that Belarus was “the last remaining true dictatorship in the heart of Europe.”

The protest in recent months has brought out thousands, some estimate as many as 100,000 citizens at a time to protest according to the same BBC article. The march was “against fascism” and the rule of Alexander Lukashenko. 

Recently one day of overwhelming numbers of demonstrators brought about the arrest of more than 1,000 people according to observers from Amnesty International. These high numbers are part of a trend with hundreds being arrested on a single given day of protesting.