Feature

How to prevent a ‘color revolution’.

The week's news at a glance.

Belarus

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is not a subtle man, said Viktor Yanin in Russia’s Gazeta.ru. Facing an election next week, he’s not content to rely on the usual dictator tactics, such as monopolizing the media and rigging the voting rules. He actually ordered the beating and jailing of one of his opponents. Last week, Alyaksandr Kozulin, leader of the Social Democrats and one of the few people brave enough to run for president against Lukashenka, was beaten up by plainclothes police and hauled off to prison. His crime? Attempting to enter an assembly hall to hear Lukashenka give a speech.

Kozulin didn’t miss much, said Jan Maksymiuk in Radio Free Europe’s Weekday Magazine. Lukashenka’s speech, delivered to loyal supporters only (all opposition members were turned away from the door), was another of the Soviet-style dictator’s famous diatribes. Belarusians have heard many of these since 1994, when Lukashenka first took power, and can expect to hear many more now that he’s changed the constitution to abolish presidential term limits. As usual, this one was a colorful rant against the West. At the start of the third hour of his oratory, Lukashenka coined a new word: “There has been a sequence of various revolutions of various colors in the former republics of the Soviet Union,” he said, “backed by Western democratic, or I should say, dung-ocratic, states.” He also railed against his political opponents, calling them “snotty bastards.” He blamed them for the vast crackdown on democracy activists and media that he’s been “forced” to implement. “This election campaign costs our armed forces, our security forces a lot of nerves and health,” Lukashenka said. “The tension is so high, you cannot even imagine.”

Sounds like the iron-fisted one is getting nervous, said Jerzy Haszczynski in Poland’s Rzeczpospolita. Lukashenka is “probably regretting” letting Kozulin and another opposition leader, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, run against him. Milinkevich, in fact, is backed by all the democratic groups in the country, and he’s been calling for a public demonstration after the vote to protest the almost certain stuffing of ballot boxes. This prospect of a “color revolution” has Europe’s last tyrant “truly scared.” He’s been talking “as if he were preparing for war, saying he is going to fight.”

Valentina Khodasevich

Kommersant

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