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5 October 2020

Belarus – Quick Take

Over the last month Belarus has faced increasing political turmoil, as incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, in office since 1994,  tightens his grip on power after a highly contentious election result in his favour.  The election, which took place on the 9th August, has been followed by weeks of protesting in the capital Minsk. 

Key opposition figures have also been targeted, with several leaving the country to seek refuge and one opposition leader tearing up her passport to avoid having to leave the country 

Alongside national tensions, Belarus is also a geopolitical flash in the region. Russia has come out in support of the election result, initially taking a somewhat low profile in support of the incumbent. However in recent weeks Putin has become increasingly vocal in his backing of Lukashennko, offering the leader a billion dollar load, security assistance and the opportunity for joint military exercises. Putin also promised to deploy a reserve police force if the situation worsened. 

The situation has also posed a challenge for EU leaders, who have come out against the violence towards protesters and while initially cautious to not be seen as undertaking geopolitical point scoring, have now stated that they do not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as President and other countries are following suit in condemning the current administration with the UK and Canada announcing sanctions on Mr Lukashenko and other senior Belarusian officials over a series of alleged human rights violation.

The international community are now keenly following what will happen next and whether the situation will escalate tensions between Russia and the European Union as they take sides.

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