Updated: Sep 28, 2022
Belarus, known as Europe's last dictatorship, has suppressed yet another freedom day demonstration. The 30-year-old country has been in political turmoil since its inception. “Freedom Day” (March 25th) is an unofficial holiday celebrating the Independence of Belarus in 1918, and has once again become a part of the national consciousness in Belarus. What was originally celebrated as symbolizing and remembering their nation’s declaration of independence, it now almost serves to try and be used to call for their own independence.
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has been criticized by both the UN and EU for his rigging of elections, as well as for keeping his citizens in a police state. With Lukashenko’s re-election as president, leaders from both the EU and US have denounced Lukashenko’s action and imposed sanctions. Other than that world leaders renouncing their recognition of Belarus haven't done much to either halt Lukashenko’s actions or even make him reconsider much of anything.
Suppressing protests, rigging elections, and extending his term limits aren’t the only things he has done, however; Lukashenko has also imprisoned political rivals, and journalists who have spoken out against him. “Random” disappearances, voter repression/electoral fraud, and propaganda are all aspects of living under Lukashenko’s Belarus, when described like this, you wouldn’t be surprised for mistaking Belarus for the WW2 era Soviet Union. What’s even more, is that during Freedom Day parades, mass arrests and even possibly torture of protestors by the police is still commonplace.
During the most recent Freedom Day protests and elections, the police crackdown was so fierce that political action was officially taken against the Belarussian government. The United States and its allies, including all of the Eu, and most South American states have economically and politically sanctioned Belarus by not recognizing the landslide election in Lukashenko’s favor as legitimate. However, many post-soviet and soviet ally states including Venezuela, China, Russia, and Thailand have politically supported Belarus, by recognizing the 2020-2021 election as legitimate. Ukraine, Poland, and almost all of the Slavic post-soviet states have joined with the US in sanctioning Belarus. Moldova, however, has sided with Russia on recognizing Belarus’ election. Most African, Middle Eastern, Indic, Southeast Asian, and Pacific States have all stayed relatively neutral although in each area there have been countries that have either recognized the election or haven’t.
Since the 90s, post-soviet states have been both furthering themselves from Russia, and by extension have been separating themselves from their old Soviet structures, many times by force, but other times just by how times change, as we go into the future, we can only hope that countries like Belarus, and other dictatorships like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, follow the path that their counterparts have taken.