Lukashenko buys himself more time in office

Presidents of Russia and Belarus during a long-delayed meeting
St. Petersburg, April 3, 2017: Alexander Lukashenko (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin have settled their economic disputes, but the Kremlin remains distrustful of its Belarusian ally (source: dpa)
  • The latest unrest in Belarus was triggered by an economic issue relevant for a small segment of its society
  • Most detainees received administrative, rather than criminal, punishments and returned home quickly
  • Both the Russians and EU governments remain suspicious of President Lukashenko’s intentions, but are equally leery of starting another international conflict

Despite large anti-government protests in Minsk in March 2017, Belarusian jails have not filled with political prisoners. The reaction of the West to the crisis has also been muted. It looks like President Alexander Lukashenko’s good luck and cunning have helped him secure another year or so in power – until the next crisis.

Other than that, the political fallout from the latest protests remains unclear. Massive anti-government marches, which culminated on March 25, did not bring down President Alexander Lukashenko. Before the confrontation, Belarusian authorities warned citizens to steer clear of the demonstrations, and ordered the police and secret police to carry out large-scale detentions on the date set for the event. Those apprehended included both activists and ordinary citizens who decided to leave their homes and join the protest.

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