Ryhor Astapenia

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de Marzo de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

The opinion poll was conducted using the Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI) method and sent to a diverse grouping that corresponds to the general structure of Belarus’ urban population in gender, age, and the size of respondents’ town of residence. The survey was completed by 899 Belarus citizens and the statistical margin of error does not exceed 3.27%.

1. How Belarusians say they voted shows Lukashenka did not win

Although unlikely to be ever proven – given recent allegations of ballots being destroyed – the anecdotal evidence of vote rigging in the election is damning, especially when considering The Central Election Commission in Belarus has claimed Lukashenka secured 80.1 percent of the vote, with Tsikhanouskaya receiving only 10.1 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Opposition supporters hold white-red-white flags at a Minsk protest in support of Belarusian opposition activist Maria Kolesnikova. Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

1. Acknowledge the new reality

A huge number of Belarusians across all levels of society simply no longer recognize Lukashenka as their legitimate president. The unprecedented size and persistence of protests against his regime and the sheer scale of reports of repressive actions, torture, and even murder, mean Belarus will never be the same again.

However, current paralysis in EU policy and the absence of a comprehensive US policy are both serving as a de facto licence for Lukashenka to deepen the political crisis. The sooner policymakers realize this and act with more responsibility and confidence, the quicker the increasing repression can be reversed.…  Seguir leyendo »

People protest at a rally of solidarity with political prisoners in Belarus. Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka deserves sanctions. This election campaign in Belarus, which culminated in a vote on Sunday is the most brutal and dirty in its history. But, so far, the EU, the UK and the US have only issued familiar-sounding and futile appeals to the Belarusian authorities condemning their actions. Not imposing sanctions is a de facto licence to continue with repression.

Despite all this, the West is unlikely to impose significant sanctions afterwards. There are several questionable reasons for this. First, Western policymakers fear sanctions against Lukashenko will make him more likely to genuflect to Russia. However, relations with Russia have already deteriorated as Belarus accuses Russia of trying to interfere with its domestic affairs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Activists gather citizens' signatures in support of Nikolai Kozlov's candidacy in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images.

An essentially sham presidential election in Belarus will take place on August 9 but, despite the expected extension of Lukashenka’s already 26-year rule, what is becoming clear is that this electoral campaign is significantly different from previous ones. The three major pillars of support that Lukashenka depends on to rule are feeling unprecedented strain.

The first pillar is public support. Lukashenka, in power since 1994, would actually have won every election he has been involved in regardless of whether they were fair or not. But now his popularity among the people appears to have plummeted as not a single publicly available opinion poll indicates significant support for him.…  Seguir leyendo »

Playing accordion in front of dummy football fans in Brest, Belarus as the country's championship continues despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo by SERGEI GAPON/AFP via Getty Images.

Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, few countries have chosen to ignore social distancing recommendations. But, even among those states which have, the Belarusian official response to its epidemic remains unique.

President Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s statements that vodka, sauna and tractors are protecting Belarusians from coronavirus attracted amused attention in international media. Lukashenka also described other societies’ response to COVID-19 as ‘a massive psychosis’.

Although Lukashenka is notorious for his awkward style of public communication, the fact that Belarus is refusing to impose comprehensive confinement measures is of concern. Belarusians continue to work, play football and socialise.

Lukashenka, himself playing ice hockey in front of state cameras, claims it is the best way to stay healthy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Putin and Lukashenka play ice hockey in Sochi after a day of talks in February. Photo: Getty Images.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the highest-ranking US official to visit Belarus since Bill Clinton in 1994. After meetings with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka – who Condoleezza Rice once memorably described as ‘Europe’s last dictator’ – Pompeo said he was ‘optimistic about our strengthened relationship’.

The EU and its member states have also changed their tune, at least a little. Previously, prosecutions of democratic activists led to sanctions against the Lukashenka regime. But his less-than-liberal manner of governance did not prevent him from visiting Austria last November or from receiving invitations to Brussels.

Eight years ago, most EU contacts with Belarusian officials were frozen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alexander Lukashenka leaves a voting booth on 17 November. Photo: Getty Images.

Belarus’s parliamentary elections, held on 17 November, were predictably non-transparent, with numerous violations. The regime of Alexander Lukasheka allowed no opposition candidates as members of parliament – in contrast to the previous parliament, in which there were two opposition MPs. While this might seem to be a return to ‘business as usual’, three key takeaways from the elections highlight a shifting political and social landscape.

1. Lukashenka is appeasing his ruling cadre by promising to increase their role in the political system.

With several influential officials becoming new MPs, it is more likely that parliament will be more involved in any forthcoming discussion of a new constitution.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will Russia try to occupy Belarus?

Earlier this year, several public figures sounded that alarm, including former NATO general secretary Anders Rasmussen and Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. That concern clashes with the idea that Belarus is Russia’s closest ally.

So where did they get that idea? Over the past four months, the Kremlin has been proposing closer ties within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, an agreement that aims toward deeper integration between the two. That treaty was signed in 1997 — but has had few tangible results. Some Russian elites are rumoring that creating a fully functioning union might enable Vladimir Putin to stay in power after he reaches his term limit as president in 2024.…  Seguir leyendo »