Belarusian demonstrators protest Russian air base
Protesters took to the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Sunday to voice their opposition to a planned Russian military air base. But some believe the former Soviet state has little choice.
Around 1,000 opposition activists marched through Minsk on Sunday, chanting "No foreign military bases!" and waving placards reading "We want a peaceful sky."
They say the Russian base would make it impossible for Belarus to maintain neutrality between the West and Moscow, and add to regional tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave orders for his ministers to agree a deal over the base with Belarus in September.
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.