Monday, March 26, 2007

Thousands protest against Lukashenko regime

An estimated 10,000 people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to protest the increasingly authoritarian regime of Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko. Riot police were on hand to keep the crowd from moving into a large city square, and made "several arrests". The protests were timed to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Lukashenko's last victory in a seriously fraudulent election, and were organized by the leaders of what passes for an opposition party in Belarus.

Known as "the last dictator in Europe", Lukashenko's rule is a throwback to Soviet style authoritarianism both politically and economically. Once seeking reunification with Russia, Lukashenko has recently found himself at odds with Moscow over a natural gas pricing dispute, Lukashenko can ill afford to alienate Russia lest he find himself completely isolated politically.

In the event that he's ousted from power in a coup, it's possible that Lukashenko will still be able to land on his feet. He's always got hockey to fall back on, anyway ...