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In Belarus, a generalized climate of terror


Since his disputed re-election in August 2020 as President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has shown that he is ready to do anything to keep power, his only obsession. The dictator, at the head of this former Soviet republic since 1994, went so far as to hijack an airliner to arrest an opposition journalist, orchestrate a gigantic migration crisis on the borders of Europe and let the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to whom he owes his political survival, using his territory to invade Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Vassalized by the head of the Kremlin, the master of Minsk also gave his agreement, in March, to the installation of Russian nuclear warheads in Belarus. “The transfer of nuclear charges has begun”, assured Mr. Lukashenko, Thursday, May 25, without specifying whether the weapons in question had already arrived. A prospect to which 74% of the Belarusian population is hostile, according to a survey published by the Chatham House think tank, based in London.

Faced with the unprecedented popular uprising that followed his fraudulent re-election, Alexander Lukashenko used indiscriminate violence. The revolution was crushed, the independent press muzzled, civil society destroyed, and thousands of people were imprisoned or forced into exile.

Read also: Belarus: President Lukashenko’s powers strengthened after a referendum

Almost three years have passed since the presidential election, but the repression continues, behind closed doors. The wind of freedom that blew in the summer of 2020, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand free and democratic elections, has given way to a climate of terror where silence has become the rule. “People are so scared that they no longer dare testify. This is striking compared to 2020”, notice the law professor Hervé Ascensio, author of a report on the situation in Belarus, published in May by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

More than 1,500 political prisoners

The world was able to collect the testimony of several Belarusians, who still reside in their country. They describe a repression of a brutality not seen for decades, based on arbitrary arrests, widespread surveillance, Orwellian propaganda and very heavy prison sentences. A system that stifles any inclination to challenge and pushes the population to curl up on itself or, for a minority, to continue the resistance clandestinely, as in the days of the USSR.

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