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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.”


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.

Clemens Bilan, epa, picture alliance

Thoroughly European

Belarus is Currently Dependent on Moscow – but the ­Democratic Opposition Wants to Lead the Country towards the West

The Lukashenko regime is tying Belarus ever closer to Russia, but the democratic forces seek an orientation towards the West – and are even talking about joining the EU. Although that sounds utopian at the moment, in the long term an alignment of the country with the European Union would be in our interests, too. For this reason, we need a mental “eastward enlargement” – and Belarus is surprisingly European in many respects.


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?


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.

Communist and Soviet Historical and Cultural Heritage of Eastern Europe in the 21st Century

Joint publication of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Belarus and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.

Places of Memory: a European Perspective on Overcoming Past Trauma

Joint publication of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Belarus and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.

KAS Belarus


Collection of the works of political scientists who stood at the origins of modern Belarusian political science and who were associated with the EHU in different periods of its existence.

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.



The Belarusian regions have been in decline for many years. While the authorities have been trying in vain to find a way to stimulate economic growth in the regions, ordinary Belarusians are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their life in Belarus. The political crisis only exacerbated the problems connected with the economy, demography, migration and the overall quality of life. However, after the summer of 2021, pressure from Western countries has added even more strain to existing internal challenges. Sectoral sanctions imposed after the Ryanair incident have affected dozens of enterprises in various fields. In this paper, it is explored how these sanctions will influence regional development, how local residents perceive them, and which cities and regions are most vulnerable to them. The research was conducted by the Centre for New Ideas and supported by KAS Belarus.

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