Updated: Oct 3
27th September 2020
Aleksander Lukashenko has been sworn in for the sixth time as President of Belarus, Europe reported New York Times. Months of public protests and efforts against the election — which the public claimed to be ‘rigged’ — went down the drain when the Belarus strongman swore in as President again on Wednesday, 23rd September 2020. The candidates for the presidential election consisted of five people, and Lukashenko was the only candidate to be satisfied with the results.
The New York Times reported that massive gatherings of people have been assembling on the streets of Minsk since 9th August 2020, almost every Sunday in a row, to protest against the new President. This triggered the swearing-in ceremony of Lukashenko as President of Belarus in a ‘secretive way’ in his residence at the Independence Palace in Minsk. The ceremony, according to the law, should have been broadcasted on live television, with an announcement for the same, much prior to the ceremony.
In reference to a transcript on the presidential site, about seven-hundred guests were invited to the secret ceremony. There has been a lot of criticism from the likes of the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who said that the elections were ‘neither free nor fair’. The opposition leader, Pavel Latushko, condemned the President’s take on this matter and told the public to start a civil disobedience campaign immediately.
The Belarus former ambassador to Washington and Paris, Latushko referred to the inauguration as ‘a special operation’. According to BBC News, he also stated, “Since today he is no longer the President of Belarus. He is just the head of the riot police who, without any insignia, operate on the streets. For us, the citizens of Belarus, and for the world community, he is a no-body.”
The current President did not receive any formal appreciation for him being elected following the ceremony. The event was only recognized by the communist powers, Russia and China. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, gave his word to Lukashenko on his visit to Russia that he would send a Russian security force if things spiralled out of hand. Lukashenko also received a loan of 1.5 billion dollars from the Russian President.
Keeping the international pressure in mind, the protestors of Belarus are attacking the President — which seems to be pushing Lukashenko over the edge. Protestors have been in such huge numbers that the police controlling the riots appear to have their hands filled. Numbers accounting to more than ten-thousand people have been arrested with over hundreds being tortured in the initial days of the protests.
(Sources: New York Times, Bloomberg, BBC News)
Edited by Meghna Venkatesh