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IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

Elections as a “special operation”

With Lukashenka’s “single voting day” only a coup by the democratic forces is surprising

On February 25, 2024, the “single voting day” for the national parliament and local councils took place in Belarus. This was likely the least free election in the history of the nation. Politically sterile, with no opposition on the ballot or in the election commissions, Lukashenka is ushering in a process that the democratic opposition calls a “special operation.” Strictly guarded by a massive contingent of his repressive apparatus, the system is now to be restructured in the spring with a new super-committee in order to secure his authoritarian rule and personal power. From his point of view, the people are above all a threat following the peaceful pro-democratic mass protests of 2020. An action led by democratic forces produced a surprise on the eve of “Election Day.”

IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

The Human Rights Situation in Belarus on the Eve of the “Single Voting Day”

The repressive system in Belarus today is no less brutal than in Putin's Russia

Just days after the breaking news of Alexei Navalny's death made global headlines, Belarusian independent media reported another tragedy that is similar in character but will likely cause much less attention. The political prisoner Ihar Lednik died in a hospital in Minsk after he had been incarcerated despite a known heart condition. He had been accused of “slandering Lukashenka” in a publication that demanded the dissolution of the Union State with Russia. This underlines yet again that the repressive system in today’s Belarus is not less brutal than in Putin’s Russia. Since 2020, at least five political prisoners have died in Belarus, four of them within the last nine months. Since last spring, at least six political prisoners, among them the most prominent leaders of the 2020 democratic protest, have “disappeared”. Former inmates and relatives describe the conditions in the penal colonies as “creeping death” and the UN sees signs of “crimes against humanity”. Since the repressions aim to secure Lukashenka’s rule beyond “elections”, this report is to give an overview of the human rights situation in Belarus on the eve of the “single voting day” on February 25, 2024.

IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

The Wagner Group in Belarus

Possible scenarios based on their previous activities worldwide

The alarming reports about the relocation of the private military company (PMU) Wagner to Belarus after the aborted "March on Moscow" raise a number of questions with regard to national and regional security: Will the Wagner Group act as a political actor in Belarus? Which "instruments" from previous missions in other parts of the world could it bring to bear? And what danger is there for Ukraine and NATO countries if Lukashenka openly fantasises about "excursions" to Poland by his new guests?

IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

New friends in the "eastern vector"

Upheaval in the foreign policy of Belarus

For decades, the foreign policy of the Republic of Belarus resembled a pendulum game between East and West. But following the crackdown on the peaceful protests in 2020, the "Ryanair incident" and the artificial migration crisis, the regime isolated itself from the West. Lukashenka's complicity in Russia's war of aggression also severed traditionally important ties with Ukraine. In the shadow of Moscow's crushing dominance, Minsk has recently made efforts to deepen its relations with countries of Central Asia, China and Iran. It remains to be seen how Lukashenka's "mediation" in the Wagner uprising will affect his foreign policy leeway.

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Menschen mit Behinderungen und das Bildungssystem in Belarus

Inklusion weltweit – aktueller Stand aus Belarus

Trotz einer äußerlich relativ guten Situation in dem im Titel angesprochenen Bereich in Belarus – vor allem auf der Ebene der Gesetzgebung – scheint die reale Lage bei einer genaueren Betrachtung von dem schönen Bild, das der Staat vor allem auf der internationalen Bühne darzustellen versucht, weit entfernt zu sein. Der vorliegende Überblick gründet sich auf Berichte belarussischer Menschenrechtler und Empfehlungen des UN-Ausschusses für die Rechte des Kindes vom Februar 2020. Die Lage wird sich seitdem kaum zum Besseren verändert haben, da das in Belarus herrschende Regime seit August 2020 um sein Überleben kämpft und kaum Mittel für signifikante Verbesserungen in diesem arbeits- und ressourcenintensiven Bereich hat. Außerdem wurden seit August 2020 so gut wie alle NGOs, die sich in diesem Bereich betätigen und sich um einen Dialog mit dem Staat zugunsten der Menschen mit Behinderungen bemüht haben, auf Initiative des Regimes zerschlagen.

In the Shadow of War: Lukashenka reaches for lifelong power

The Belarusian national anthem begins with the line “Belarusians are peaceful people”. For many years it had been a core promise of Minsk’s foreign policy positioning to rule out the possibility of an aggression towards any neighbors. This sentence is now even supposed to become part of the national constitution, despite Russian tanks rolling and missiles flying into Ukraine from Belarusian territory every day. After this Sunday’s referendum, which took place under circumstances which democratic forces call a “de facto military occupation by Russia”, the regime declared that a majority of Belarusians voted in favor of constitutional amendments – although pre-referendum projections suggest that the figures presented are strongly inflated (presumably more than doubled) and the necessary quorum was almost certainly not met in reality. When the amendments will come in place on March 9th, the state setup of Belarus and the country’s formal geopolitical positioning will be changed substantially – at least on paper. For Aliaksandr Lukashenka, the goal is to secure a path to unlimited rule and personal immunity and minimise the "danger" of the “opposition” ever taking over. Although in reality, many question how much control he still has left, apart from repressions. In the foreign policy realm, the country is abandoning neutrality and its non-nuclear status. Hence, the majority of people doesn’t expect any improvements in the country from the constitutional amendments. Many ask: why a new constitution if the current one isn’t being applied anyway? The democratic forces had called for an active boycott of the “illegitimate” referendum beforehand. Faced with their country being dragged into a highly unpopular war against a peaceful neighbour, thousands of Belarusians seized the opportunity to protest – for the first time in over a year.

Migration crisis on the Belarusian-Latvian border

Newest developments on the Belarusian-Latvian border

On August 2, Agnė Bilotaitė, the Lithuanian Minister of Interior signed an order which allowed board guards to send back migrants to Belarus.[1] Following this, there was a rapid increase of migrants crossing the Latvian border from Belarus. In the four days, from August 7 until August 10, 218 illegal migrants had been detained at the border. As the border crisis deepened, on August 10 the Government of Latvia declared a state of emergency in the border municipalities. The state of emergency is in force until November 10.[2]

Okras / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Illegal migration as a political weapon

About the situation on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border

The Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly threatened the EU to allow refugees from war zones to enter the EU in response to the sanctions imposed on his country. The main target is Lithuania, which has an almost 680 kilometer long and mostly unprotected border with Belarus. The increase in illegal migrant flows from Iraq and African countries is actively promoted by the Belarusian regime. According to Ylva Johansson, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, this is not just a migration crisis, but an act of aggression aimed at destabilization.

churnosoff / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0/ creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Belarus under a Deep Snow Cover

The wheels are in motion, but there is no sight of a solution to the political crisis.  A snapshot of the situation

While the stem of the thermometer would rarely drop below zero in Belarus in the winter of 2019/20, the second frost wave with stable double-digit negative temperatures is about to hit Belarus at the beginning of February. The country has been under a thick blanket of snow for weeks, and it also seems to many that the “Belarusian summer” is followed by a long winter, reflecting the political situation. But there is much more to this. Belarus has largely disappeared from the German media at the moment, so this report provides an overview of the overall situation and selects focus areas.

Reactions from Belarus to the third EU sanctions package against the Lukashenka regime

On December 17, the EU published the list of the third package of sanctions against the regime in Belarus.

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The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is a political foundation. Our offices abroad are in charge of over 200 projects in more than 120 countries. The country reports offer current analyses, exclusive evaluations, background information and forecasts - provided by our international staff.

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Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.