Amid Lackluster Presidential Race, Boycott Campaign Brings Out Big Crowd In Belarus

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April 22, 2016 19:29

It’s been a humdrum presidential election campaign in Belarus.

Serious contenders have been sidelined and authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in office for more than two decades, is expected to easily secure a fifth term.

The campaign’s unexpected highlight came on September 23, when opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich urged voters to stay away from the poll on October 11 during a rare unsanctioned protest.

Hundreds of supporters flocked to downtown Minsk to hear Statkevich, who denounced the absence of any prominent opposition figure in the vote.

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Problems remain for independent journalism in Belarus
April 22, 2016 19:37

Despite raised hopes, a full turn toward Europe seems unlikely.

Do recent events indicate that Belarus could fully turn towards Europe and pull away from Russia politically? In the last few months, a number of developments have excited observers in international media and revitalised old debates about the former Soviet country’s future. But despite positive indications, a broader view suggests that this prediction may be overly optimistic.

In the judgment of most media freedom or democracy indexes, the Eastern European country is labelled as one of the worst in Europe and in recent years Belarus has shown no tangible progress towards establishing a free media atmosphere.

 

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