After the December 2010 elections in Belarus, democratic activists and political dissidents of Belarus’ newly “re-elected” President Alexander Lukashenko (his fourth term, 16 years and running) raised a storm over what they deemed to be fraud elections. Poll statistics indicated that President Lukashenko garnered over 80% of the nation’s votes. Simply seeing the massive protests following the elections contradicts the polls.
More than 700 people were arrested after the elections, the majority coming from the capital of Minsk. Clashes between Belarus activists and state police were confirmed as indiscriminate injuries and arrests were made with stun grenades, nightsticks and other riot gear.
Both protesters and speculators were injured or arrested under the justification of “subduing a rebellion”.
The “riots” as reported by the Belarus government led to the injury and arrests of at least two previous presidential candidates who ran in the 2010 elections. Offices and homes of alleged dissidents along with independent news organizations were raided and damaged by police.
Of course the international community swiftly condemned Belarus’ actions. The European Union and the United States imposed strict sanctions on Belarus including a travel ban on major government officials including President Lukashenko along with the freezing of Belarus assets.
Multiple European governments and other entities followed suit with pledges of more than $120 million in aid to opposition groups in Belarus and independent media.
After the heavy barrage of criticism and pressure, President Lukashenko has announced that he will be pardoning all the people jailed who allegedly took part in the “riots” and to “prove” that the elections were legitimate.
This announcement comes at a time when the Belaru governments is experiencing hard times and needs the support of the European Union to stay afloat at both home and abroad.
Human rights groups rightly accuse the government of just bandying with words and trying to appease the European Union to escape the pressure and some of the sanctions.
(Cover Photo: Alexey Gromov, AFP/Getty Images)