Lukashenko follows Putin’s example

Alexandr Lukashenko and Valdimir Putin in the Kremlin in February
Image: dpa

The Belarusian ruler has constitutional changes approved in a referendum. That would allow him to remain president longer. Anyone who criticizes the project risks being denounced and arrested.

In the shadow of the Ukraine conflict, a referendum has begun in Belarus, with which the regime of ruler Alexandr Lukashenko wants to have constitutional changes approved, but according to the opposition, it wants to “falsify popular support”. Election day is next Sunday. As is customary in the country, an “early vote” has been running since Tuesday. Belarusians report in online media how they are pressured to vote and threatened with losing their jobs. You get told who is for the “bright future of the country”, vote for the changes. On the other hand, those who want conditions “like in Ukraine”, reported a reader of the exile medium “”.

This is the follow-up project to the smashed former flagship medium, 15 of its employees, including the editor-in-chief Marina Zolotova, are among the 1,078 political prisoners in Belarus. This list is headed by the human rights project Vyazna (Spring), which itself provided seven of the prisoners, including the chairman, Ales Belyatsky. Also on the list since mid-January is 68-year-old Nikolai Vitikov, who is being held in custody in the east Belarusian city of Gomel on charges of “fomenting social hostility”. The pensioner had criticized the reform project in a letter to a regime newspaper. The editor-in-chief reported him, Witikov could face up to five years in prison.

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