Belarus pro-democracy protests against 'Europe's last dictator' deserve our support – Angus Robertson
This is the third week in a row that I’ve written about Belarus. Why? Because it really matters. Belarus may be a country far away about which we know little, but their struggle for democracy and human rights is universal and demands our attention, respect and support.
Three weeks have now passed since the man described as “Europe’s last dictator”, Alexander Lukashenko, engineered an extension to his 26 year-rule with the preposterous claim he had been re-elected with 80 per cent of the vote. Since then the brave people of Belarus have taken to the streets of Minsk and other cities to protest against his grotesque electoral manipulation.
After months of avoidable diplomatic inactivity, the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Cooperation has finally proved its worth by offering to act as a facilitator between the popular opposition in Belarus and the beleaguered regime. Europe’s only trans-continental security organisation, bridging East and West, is best placed to make a sensible intervention to de-escalate the situation and help Belarus move forward.
This is fast becoming a priority with authorities in Minsk revoking the permission of international journalists to report on the peaceful, pro-democracy protests and Russian president Vladimir Putin offering to send in “reserve police units” to restore order. People in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine can testify to what that means in reality, and it’s not good news.
The resolve of people in Belarus is as formidable as it is impressive. It is for the people of Belarus to decide who they elect, not Russia or the rest of Europe. We should all support their campaign for democracy and human rights.
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