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Opposition Candidate Flees Belarus

On August 11, 2020, Belarusian presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was forced to flee her native country to Lithuania after reportedly being threatened by KGB officers. In the days following the August 9 election, Tsikhanouskaya had filed complaints with the Central Election Commission (CEC), stating that the electoral process, "was illegitimate." Shortly she arrived at CEC headquarters on August 10, a video emerged online of the opposition candidate encouraging her voter base to stop protesting and accept the election results. Considering that this statement is in direct contradiction to previous declarations, and her immediate flight from the country in the hours after, The Intelligence Ledger assesses that the video was recorded while Tsikhanouskaya was under duress.

On August 9, the Central Election Commission announced that incumbent Alexander Lukashenko had defeated Tsikhanouskaya with 79.6% of the vote. Given Mr. Lukashenko's propensity to rely on dirty tricks, this seems highly unlikely. In recent years, Lukashenko has grown unpopular amongst the civilian populous due to a strong reliance on authoritarian tactics, growing economic stagnation, and failed social policies.

Mr. Lukashenko's artificial victory due to ballot stuffing led to civil unrest across Belarus, with citizens unwilling to accept the CECs decision. Further putting pressure on Minsk are growing calls for national strikes in major industrial sectors, such as have already occurred at major steel, vehicle and fertilizer factories in the wake of the commission's declaration. Instead of acquiescing to its constituents demands, the Belarusian government severely restricted internet access and reportedly cut phone lines to disrupt the organization of protestors. Security forces responded forcefully any civilians that approached government positions, arresting nearly 6,000 Belarusians in less than two days.

The international community is extremely divided as to how to proceed in regards to Belarus. While the majority of democratic states have decried blatant acts of deceit and violence on the part of the government, the People's Republic of China and small authoritarian states have fallen in line behind Lukashenko. Although the Russian Federation has publicly voiced support for the long-time leader of Belarus, there appears to be growing concern in Moscow that his continued presence will further destabilize a volatile situation on the Russo-Belarusian border. Although the establishment of Tsikhanouskaya and her pro-western government is out of the question, the Russian Federation may eventually employ covert or overt methods in an attempt to bring about an equitable resolution to the current situation.

Related Reading

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