Belarus is “Europe’s last dictatorship”. The Eastern European country (sandwiched between the EU to the West and Russia to the East) has been ruled by strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka for the past 26 years. He regularly “wins” over 80% of the vote in sham elections, and his government has long been criticised for persistent civil and human rights abuses.

However, Lukashenka’s regime is in trouble. The 2020 Belarusian presidential election, condemned by the EU as fraudulent, has sparked the largest protests since the country gained independence from the USSR in 1991. Lukashenka was recently heckled by workers while giving a speech at the state-owned Minsk Tractor Works, a scene carrying echoes of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu being booed by a crowd just before his downfall.

Recent media images of President Lukashenka have portrayed him as unhinged, defiantly flying over protesting crowds in a helicopter brandishing an assault rifle, as well as arming his 15-year-old son with a kalashnikov and body armour. Rather than appearing confident and powerful, these images have an “end of days” feel, making it appear the regime has completely lost control.

However, as the protests enter their third week, there is little sign of Lukashenaka backing down. Instead, the government has been rounding up and arresting opposition figures, as well as placing units of the armed forces on full alert and mobilising military reservists.

Some analysts see echoes of the violent 2014 Ukraine revolution. However, others argue the situation in Belarus is very different. For one thing, the protests in Belarus are not particularly anti-Putin, and (unlike Ukraine) the toppling of the regime would be unlikely to lead to Belarus distancing itself from Moscow.

Is Europe’s last dictatorship about to fall? Could democracy come to Belarus? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) mazzzur


43 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Dave

    Will be a very watered down version of democracy anyways

    • avatar
      UknownWarrior

      @Dave, why does not Europe see the struggles in Bulgaria? Is Belarus more important than Bulgaria? Is Belarus more meaningful to the EU, then Bulgaria which is a EU member since January 2007. We need the help of other European countries. The battle is tough in Bulgaria.

  2. avatar
    George

    nope, Europe’s last dictatorship is not falling soon… Germany and Merkel is still strong.

    • avatar
      Ludwig

      In no way comparable but Be careful, she’s about to poison you, she was at Putin’s school

    • avatar
      David

      Without the UK? It’s stronger than before.

    • avatar
      Chris

      yeah so unified

    • avatar
      Chris

      you must be about the only Greek who loves the eu, enjoy paying for it without the uks massive contribution

    • avatar
      David

      hahahaha, British humour is so funny. What the Scots and Northern Irish think about all this? How will you honour the Good Friday agreement regarding the Irish border?

    • avatar
      Chris

      it’s called democracy, I think invented when your country was great. A majority voted to be free of paying for others countries to grow while ours declines. The majority wanted our money spent here, the majority wanted to be free of the EU cabal. Oh you forgot Wales who voted in favour of leaving. The good Friday agreement is a sham, we should never have negotiated with terrorists, we should have sent the SAS to destroy them. As far as I’m concerned we should let the Scottish have their independence and feel what is like when the English tax payer isn’t paying their bills, rebuilt hadrians wall as far as I’m concerned. I am English

    • avatar
      David

      Did you read before writing? Leave, we are cool with that. We won’t miss you, we wish you the best and we think it would be the best for both parts, as UK wanted to leave and the EU wants more integration. So yes, we believe the EU will be better without the UK as well as you believe the UK will be better like this.

    • avatar
      Chris

      no worries but the eu has done nothing for Greece other than to impoverished and subjagate her, I guess you have bent the knee to your masters, we are free people

    • avatar
      Cãlin

      I’ve read all the thread and I must say that you are wrong by far. Overall the vast majority of the population of EU countries lives better than before joining the union, including UK. There were periods when it was a bit better and also there are certain categories of people for whom is worse, of course. Don’t forget, though, that we don’t live in the same world we used to live decades ago. Nothing is the same. Neither the Empire where sun never sets. Neither China. Neither the US.

    • avatar
      Chris

      no you are wrong, the eu cost the UK billions for what? Eu grant? Our money anyway. Trade? We import far more than we gain in exports. Paying for others infrastructure spend? Not really a benefit for UK tax payers. Freedom of movement? Great so we keep wages down by an influx of cheap labour and further water down our culture. Workers rights? We had them anyway and have higher standards than the eu. On top of that paying for the 10000 people in Brussels who get paid more than our PM and their shopping malls and bar bill and the crazy relocation to strasbourg. The whole thing is a money pit masquerading as a country with a flag and and anthem while trying to marginalise the nation state and its people. No thanks, glad we are out, I would still leave even if it cost me 2k a year personally

    • avatar
      Cãlin

      to not get me wrong, I’ll tell you from the beginning that I’m a fan of British culture and it’s influence over space and time, but… We’ll see. Good luck with that pile of money you’re saving!

  3. avatar
    Michał

    I’ve heard various things about Belarus, and undoubtedly their security services are not to be messed with. But I doubt they are actually much worse than any other countries, (hello France?, the US?) unless you happen to be employed by the state department.

    Other than that, though, it’s the only post-communist country that still has socialized medicine, guaranteed employment, and many similar perks. So I suspect that a revolution would leave them with the same security services (those guys never go away), but much, much poorer.

    • avatar
      Joe

      Nice statement from Wikipedia. Now tell us, what do you REALLY know about Belarus? I mean, first hand.

    • avatar
      Michał

      Joe, don’t you have some other conspiracy theory to fret about? You might not realize that my last name is Belarusian, and probably 20 generations of my family lived there, until they were chased out by the Soviets.
      I’m fairly certain that most people like you could barely have found Belarus on a map two months ago, but now you consider yourself an expert.

    • avatar
      Joe

      Lol, oh gosh, another troll. Have you actually been to Belarus recently? I don’t talk about topics i don’t know in depth. I also don’t discuss with trolls but i have some spare time today.

    • avatar
      Michał

      And yet, you know nothing about where I got this information, so you are clearly blowing Hot air. As I said at the beginning of my post, I have heard various things about Belarus, from friends who live there, I have never been myself, but I am also quite familiar with the culture as it’s where my family is from. I have never even seen the Wikipedia page.

      I would assume that the people running this site would remove people who are agressive for no reason whatsoever. You haven’t actually even bothered to disagree with anything I’ve said, just Rolling around like a pig in the mud.

      Which is actually the definition of trolling behavior. If you have something substantive to add, – agree or disagree – go ahead, otherwise, leave me alone.

    • avatar
      Michał

      For what it’s worth, the last person I talked to from Belarus said it’s the most boring country in the world, nothing to do but go to your state job and raise a family. Most people don’t have a very high opinion of Lukashenko, but they are apathetic and grateful not to have to deal with a lot of western – style capitalist problems.

  4. avatar
    Joe

    It cannot succed for 3 reasons: 1) Putin considers Belarus “his territory”. 2) Lukashenko is nuts and is willing to destroy the country before losing power 3) There are too many people in the EU and US with tin foil hats that believe in every conspiracy theory the Russian trolls feed them.

    • avatar
      George

      so basically you have a conspiracy theory, and everyone else is using “tin foil hats”… right

    • avatar
      Joe

      What part was a conspiracy theory?

    • avatar
      George

      1 to 3

    • avatar
      Joe

      Da svidania Ivan.

  5. avatar
    Jerry Farewell

    Lukashenka is done. People are not afraid anymore. Liberty has vastly more support than Lukashenka’s Orwellian pig farm rule.

    • avatar
      UknownWarrior

      @Jerry Farewell, what about the protests in Bulgaria? The Russian president Vladimir Putin is asking the European union to look at the protests in Bulgaria and not in Belarus. Why is Europe no reacting to the demonstrations and violence in the small Balkan country? The Bulgarians need your support.

  6. avatar
    Dan

    In a way there’s different degrees of dictatorship,truth be told you can count the number of true democracies in Europe on the fingers of one hand.
    And the political landscape is actually getting worse not better, lets discuss why that is.

  7. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    The dilemma- which ethical, international principles & existing (UN) laws should be applicable & which actions are internationally defendable, justifiable & necessary?

    Should it only be principles based on the UN Charter like:

    • The principle of non-interference & non-intervention. (Interventionism vs non-interventionism.) It is a general principle in international law based on the UN Charter- questionable?

    • Responsibility vs. Sovereignty- “the responsibility to protect”? Another UN doctrine adopted as a UN Resolution in 1973- questionable?
    “The Rwandan genocide!”

    https://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/rwanda/pdf/bgresponsibility.pdf

    • The ‘Never Again’- 1948 UN Genocide convention- questionable?
    Famously and effectively used by Nelson Mandela against Apartheid.

    https://www.e-ir.info/2014/06/05/the-1948-genocide-convention-as-an-increasingly-meaningless-document/

    • Isolationism- currently used by US Republican president D. Trump- “Make America great again”- questionable?
    • Neutrality- Swiss choice- questionable?
    • Any other UN Resolution not mentioned here- questionable?

    Non-UN sanctioned actions by:
    • The EU supranational concept- equally questionable?
    • Actions by individual countries- even more questionable?
    • Actions by the former US Democratic Party (Obama/Clinton) of “regime change”- despicable?
    • Sole NGO actions. E.g. searching for migrants in the Mediterranean under fishy pretences- despicable?
    • “Putin laws”- clandestine actions of poisoning & stubborn denial? Criminal?

    Every international problem has complex national roots- they usually lack commonalities. It appears there was never nor will be justice to preventions or solutions- UN sourced or otherwise- to be universally applicable & acceptable. It usually will be non/late actions or a hope for the best- “adapt & adopt” compromise.

    Since the world went global- why not stick to globally sourced UN consent & solutions. Yes, tedious & slow, no copy & paste, nor Rasputin poisonings!

  8. avatar
    Olivier

    Maybe it s better than The anarchy we face in France

  9. avatar
    Oliver

    Last european dictator is sitting in the kremli in moscow

  10. avatar
    Gabor

    The entire world we live in is a dictatorship…

  11. avatar
    Casaluna

    Lukashenko needs to be convinced, try hard and long !

  12. avatar
    Boris

    It’s not the last one any longer.

  13. avatar
    Dirk

    It’s fallen already. Dont’t discuss about the dictator. Better find perspectives for the post Lukashenko era. It’s urgent…

    • avatar
      UknownWarrior

      @Dirk, what about Boyko Borisov, because he is the Bulgarian dictator now. He refuses to give back the power to the nation and he even manipulates the votes in his favor so he could stay in power. The Mafia controls the Bulgarian politicians, this is why the people are angry. The people of Bulgaria do not want to live in poverty anymore. Did the EU commission saw our protests in Bulgaria?

  14. avatar
    UknownWarrior

    The Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the European Union a quest. The questions was:”Why the Europeans do not pay attention to the protests in Bulgaria? Why do they look at Belarus?”

    I think this is a good question. I have a suspicion why, but I cannot prove it. However I agree that the EU should show some support for Bulgaria, since it is a EU member unlike Belarus!

  15. avatar
    jthk

    Any evidence the EU accused that the election of Belarus as fraudulent? “Intelligence”shared by the US?

  16. avatar
    jthk

    Why EU has uttered not a word on the “American dictator” and support the black Americans fighting the Black Live Matters? Hypocrite!

  17. avatar
    NewMan

    @Debating Europe, please create a topic about the protests in Bulgaria. We are also suffering from a politician who is basically a dictator like Lukashenko!

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