My history draws me to news and articles about Belarus. But we should put my past to one side and concentrate on the facts.
It was on the western flank of the old USSR and the main borders are with Russia, Ukraine and Poland. It was ravaged by the Second World War and proportionally lost my more of its people and property than any of the other allies.
And then most of the radiation of the Chernobyl disaster swept across what were previously abundantly rich farm lands.
But with the downfall of the Soviet empire, and while other countries became freer nothing changed in Belarus.
In the 2006 ‘elections’ the results were Lukashenko received 82.6% of the vote and then 79.6% in 2010.
Do not believe this is a sign of popular support. Protestors and dissenters are ruthlessly put down and imprisoned.
USA State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. “The United States concurs with the assessment of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). We cannot consider the election results yesterday as legitimate.”
A White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: “The United States strongly condemns the actions that the government of Belarus has taken to undermine the democratic process and (the use of) disproportionate force against political activists, civil society representatives and journalists. We call for the immediate release of all presidential candidates and the hundreds of protesters who were detained on December 19 and 20.”
Why this is important
- Belarus is in the heart of the new Europe. Two of its bordering countries are hosting the European Football Championship and for what it is worth Belarus enters the Eurovision Song competition.
- Economically you may worry about the Russian gas pipeline that goes through Belarus (the cause of major disagreements with Moscow) being in the hands of a dictator.
- Socially you may worry the continuation of the old Brezhnev Doctrine which led to many Russians being sent to the satellite states to ensure Russian hegemony by removing, squashing and all but eliminating Belarusian culture.
- But more importantly all these decisions should be in the hands of the Belarusian people. They should have a free vote and the right to decide their own culture and direction.
There is a ruthless dictator in the heart of the new Europe. We should all condemn him and add our support to the dissidents like Mr Sannikov.
In case you don’t get to the read the article in the link here is a chilling extract: “Mr Sannikov, a former adviser to the Belarusian diplomatic mission in Switzerland, and later Deputy Foreign Minister, was one of the most popular opposition candidates to stand against Alexander Lukashenko in the disputed December 2010 presidential elections. When protests broke out over claims of voting fraud, President Lukashenko responded with a brutal crackdown that led to hundreds of arrests, widespread torture, the imprisonment of almost all those who ran against him.”
As I have said my history makes this area one of focus for me. Belarus is one of the key locations in my first novel: The Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius. They are reasons but not my main drive. I do not like to see any people being ruled ruthlessly and having all their freedoms restricted.
Now if Belarus had been in the Middle East ……………………….