Country in Focus: Belarus

Exile Belarusian women and human rights activists continue to report on political turmoil and human rights controversies surfacing Belarus in recent years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus became an independent country, whilst remaining closely aligned with Russia both politically and economically. President Alexander Lukashenko in power since 1994 has been accused of human rights abuses and suppressing political opposition.

The results of the country’s presidential elections in August 2020 were disputed by the opposition and many international observers, citing widespread irregularities and voter intimidation. This sparked large-scale protests throughout the country, with demonstrators calling for Lukashenko's resignation and new, free, and fair elections.

The government responded to these protests with violence and repression, leading to widespread condemnation from the international community. Security personnel have attacked and detained journalists and everyday people who criticize the regime through protests, reporting on events, or publishing online commentary. Additionally, there is no independent judiciary or other entity to serve as a check on Lukashenko's power. The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Belarus in response to the crackdown on opposition figures and human rights abuses.

As of 2023, the situation in Belarus remains tense, with Lukashenko in power and the opposition continuing to push for change. Amid Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Belarus has increasingly distanced itself from the West and aligned closely with Russia, solidifying its role as a key ally in the conflict. Belarus faces significant challenges in the years ahead as it navigates political and economic turmoil.

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