Belarus: one year after the start of the protests, Lukashenko promises he will resign “very soon”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has promised he will step down “very soon”, one year after the controversial elections that sparked unprecedented protests in the country, severely repressed by the authorities. Lukashenko, often referred to as the last dictator of Europe, however, did not specify when he will leave the presidency of Belarus, which has been continuously occupied for 27 years. Already last November Lukashenko promised that he would resign after the approval of a new constitution.
During the annual press conference held today, Lukashenko also argued that in Belarus “there has been no repression and there will never be repression”. “Unleashing the repression in Belarus is like shooting yourself. I know that well and I will never go beyond that limit, ”he added.
To contain the protests that in recent months have brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets after the vote on 9 August 2020, about 35 thousand people have been arrested and several have been killed by the Belarusian authorities, while activists and opponents have been forced to leave the country. village. In recent weeks, the case of the Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has also risen to prominence, accusing the government of trying to force her to repatriate during the Tokyo Games. Tsimanouskaya, who had criticized the management of the Olympic team, refused to board the plane to return to Belarus, seeking asylum in Poland. “She would not have done it alone if she hadn’t been manipulated,” said Lukashenko today, who also denied any involvement by Minsk in the death of Vitaly Shishov, a Belarusian opponent found hanged in Ukraine.
In May, Lukashenko ordered the hijacking of a plane carrying Belarusian journalist Raman Protasevich, forced to land in Minsk on his way from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, prompting the European Union and the United States to impose new sanctions against Belarus.
The Belarusian president, who was re-elected to his sixth term in last year’s elections, has threatened retaliation for sanctions, after having already given up on curbing arrivals of migrants in European countries.
“Who needs dirty explosives to arrive in the European Union?” Lukashenko said, referring to cooperation with Western countries in the fight against the smuggling of radioactive materials. “We are not blackmailing, we are not threatening, we are forced to react”.
Today, on the occasion of the anniversary of the elections, the United States will announce other sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, for violations of human rights, repression of opponents even abroad and corruption, as anticipated by the AFP. The United Kingdom also announced a tightening of sanctions against Belarus, while the European Union reiterated its closeness to the Belarusian opposition. “The EU will not stop until you are released”, he said the president of the European Council Charles Michel in reference to Raman Protasevich and the political prisoners in Belarus, affirming that the EU remains alongside the Belarusian population and “will continue to do so”.