Thursday, March 16, 2006

Repression in Belarus

It's starting to get rough in the election campaign in Belarus. Hardly surprising, but certainly worth calling attention to.

The presidential election is on Sunday. With massive support from every state instrument in sight - and some more - it's virtually certain that the authoritarian Mr Lukaskenko will be re-elected. He rules Europe's last authoritarian regime.

But it looks as if he starting to be somewhat nerveous.

It's difficult to find any other explanation to the fact that repression seems to be increasing dramatically during these final days of the campaign. Lukasjenko evidently feels that he can't rely only on state propaganda - he also needs state repression to win over challenges Alexander Milinkevich.

That's the man on the picture.

Lukashenko's challengers have been hobbled by arrests and other measures against supporters. Milinkevich is now saying that more than 300 opposition activists had been detained or otherwise punished and more than 50 remained behind bars in police stations and in jails.

What's happening in Belarus is truly a disgrace to Europe.

There is a need to intensifu discussions on how Europe should react to obvious repression in Belarus.

And to possible election fraud. We are awaiting the report of the OSCE election observers that will be issued after the election.