Now that the protests have died down in Belarus, a quick update of a few interesting stories I’ve seen today:
- The LA Times estimates that over 1,000 opposition activists and protestors have been arrested since the election. Most of them seem to have been sentenced to 15 days, which I suppose is something to be relatively thankful for.
- Publius reports that 20 of those arrested have gone on hunger strike to draw attention to the crowded conditions in their overcrowded jails.
- Following reports that his election inauguration had been postponed, the press noticed this week that Alexander Lukashenko hadn’t actually been seen in public since the election. Stress, and a mysterious illness were suggested, but according to Kommersant, he popped up at a televised meeting, telling people to take pictures of their glorious leader down off their walls.
- br23 blog reports that the KGB called one opposition leader, pretending to be from the US embassy. They told him that the US ambassador wanted to see him and sent a car to collect him. Once he got in the car, he was taken away and beaten.
- Defeated Presidential candidate, Alexander Milinkevich plans to go to Warsaw to speak to the Polish parliament. I doubt Lukashenko will mind Milinkevich leaving the country, but will he be let back in?
- Alexander Kozulin, the other defeated opposition Presidential candidate has been charged with organizing group action and using explosives, leading to the breach of peace, says Interfax. He was arrested last week, and now faces up to six years in jail.
Not a lot of cheery news, unfortunately.
About the best we can hope for is that the opposition have learnt a lot of lessons that they can use in the future, that awareness of the situation in Belarus has spread massively, and that people in Belarus are aware that a sizeable opposition movement exists.