Plan for Russian Air Base Adds Twist to Belarus Election
Elections in this country of 10 million people sandwiched between Russia and the European Union are typically a boring affair: President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Moscow, has won every contest since 1994 and is the clear favorite again ahead of Sunday’s vote.
But this year, Russian ambitions to open an air base in the former Soviet republic amid escalating tensions with the West have injected a surprising twist into the campaign.
Last Sunday, a few hundred people took to the streets of Minsk to protest the planned base—a rare move in an authoritarian country that has violently suppressed political demonstrations and jailed opposition party members.
The Russian side is grateful to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko for his decision to go to Russia as the visit after the presidential election, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Belarus Alexander Surikov said in an interview with the STV channel, BelTA has learned.
“We are grateful for this decision,” the Ambassador said.