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A legacy of socialism? State violence continues in Belarus



In Belarus, government security forces continue to abuse, arrest and torture anti-democracy protesters as mass demonstrations become an almost daily feature of life in the country after authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth term in a widely contested election in more than 100 days. before.

A recent video shared online filmed just one case of government violence against dissent, as state police in balaclavas beat protesters in a Minsk supermarket with batons.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

United Kingdom, CANADIAN SANCTION BELARUS OVER “ASSEMBLY” ELECTIONS, PROTESTER TREATMENT

In Belarus, 70% of workers are employed by the state, according to the Heritage Foundation̵

7;s Economic Freedom Index for 2020. Their president has been in power for more than 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, and his previous job was to run a socialist collective farm.

Socialist experts say that authoritarianism is a natural growth of socialism, because in order for the government to dictate everything in economic life, it must exercise a lot of control – control that can also be used to keep a leader in power. for decades.

“Belarus has not, in fact, escaped its Soviet past,” Alexis Mrachek, a research fellow in Russia and Eurasia at the Douglas & Sarah Alison Center for Foreign Policy, told Fox News. “Socialism still has a presence in Belarus.”

Belarusian pensioners in anti-coronavirus masks attend opposition rally to protest official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, November 16, 2020. Crowds of pensioners marched through the streets of the Belarusian capital on Monday demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian president and put an end to government repression against peaceful protesters.  (AP photo)

Belarusian pensioners in anti-coronavirus masks attend opposition rally to protest official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, November 16, 2020. Crowds of pensioners marched through the streets of the Belarusian capital on Monday demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian president and put an end to government repression against peaceful protesters. (AP photo)

The European Union said on Thursday it was planning a new round of sanctions against Belarus, targeting business, noting that the Lukashenko government has not stopped despite earlier efforts by the bloc to sanction the country’s president and more than 50 officials for their role. their repression against the protest.

European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU member states agreed in principle on additional measures not only for individuals but also for “institutions, entrepreneurs and companies” in response to the “brutality of the authorities”.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the former Soviet republic has one of the worst human rights registers in Europe. Industry and state-controlled agriculture are not competitive, and the country is increasingly relying on Russia for its energy supplies.

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Mrachek told Fox News that the lack of other foreign investment in Belarus was the result of Lukashenko’s close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Widespread corruption in government and police also discourages foreign companies from entering the market, thus reinforcing Belarusians’ dependence on the state as a way to make a living.

Belarusian riot police demonstrate during opposition rally to protest official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, November 15, 2020 (AP Photo)

Belarusian riot police demonstrate during opposition rally to protest official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, November 15, 2020 (AP Photo)

More than 2,000 pensioners marched in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Monday, demanding Lukashenko’s resignation and an end to brutal police violence against opposition supporters. Retirees carried portraits of Raman Bandarenka, a 31-year-old opposition supporter who died last week after being reportedly beaten by security forces.

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Protests have rocked Belarus since the August 9th election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent, Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya. She and her supporters declined to acknowledge the result, saying the vote was fraudulent.

Authorities launched brutal measures against largely peaceful demonstrations, the largest of which drew up to 200,000 people. Police used stunning grenades, tear gas and batons to disperse the rallies and detain thousands, beating many of them brutally.

Belarusian police detain protesters during opposition rally in protest of official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, November 15, 2020 (AP Photo)

Belarusian police detain protesters during opposition rally in protest of official results of presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, November 15, 2020 (AP Photo)

According to human rights defenders, more than 19,000 people have been detained since the election. At least four people were reported killed in the crackdown.

“Tsikhanovskaya could be a symbol of hope for Belarus,” Mrachek said, adding that she had already met with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and leaders in Denmark and Sweden to facilitate diplomatic relations and pave the way. the path to more open communication with the West. “In turn, Lukashenko is becoming increasingly desperate and sending these forces to security.”

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Monday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck, using stunning grenades, tear gas and bats and beating protesters in shops and restaurants where they were hiding from the crackdown.

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The interior ministry said more than 700 people were detained across the country on Sunday, while the Viasna human rights center said the figure was 1,291.

Maxim Lot and the Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.


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