Guardian: Time to Confront Europe's Mugabe
Published: 23 December 2010
The Guardian, a leading British newspaper, described the recent violence and torture used by the Belarus authorities following the rigged presidential elections. The newspaper calls Alyaksandr Lukashenka the European Mugabe. It also quotes Belarusian analysts who think that the main reason for police brutality and massive repressions was the need to instill fear in Belarusian people.
That fear has weakened when Mr Lukashenka was playing with the West over the last couple of years. He needed a more liberal appearance to secure EU’s support for funds from the World Bank, the IMF and European banks. He has gotten it all. Now that Russia is once again willing to provide him with subsidized oil, Mr Lukashenka no longer needs money from the West and can be true to himself.
The Guardian describes torture techniques used against hundreds of demonstrators, following their beatings and arrests:
Natalia Koliada of the Belarus Free Theatre was among those rounded up last Sunday, after she and others protested against president Alexander Lukashenko’s shameless stealing of yet another presidential election. She told Index on Censorship that she was held for 14 hours and not allowed water, food or sleep. Detainees of both sexes were kept in freezing prison corridors, abused by guards (“You are animals … Our dream is to kill you”), and obliged to defecate in front of each other.
As always, Europe was hoping that Russia would be the one to pacify Mr Lukashenka. But as many times before, the Kremlin turned a blind eye on human rights violations even though their scale was unprecedented for Belarus. According to the Guardian, the Belarusian Mugabe also secured a deal with Russia according to which he will be getting subsidized oil to re-sell it to the West. The profits would be enough to keep happy his massive army of bodyguards, police and other security personnel.
The Guardian concludes that repression in Belarus had been planned irrespective of the scale and course of the planned opposition demonstration. The best evidence for that was that Mr Neklyaev, the most charismatic presidential candidate, had been beaten up and knocked unconscious even before protest demonstrations started.
The newspaper criticizes the European Union which is not willing to take any active steps to stop terror in Belarus. Instead of simply observing, it urges the EU to do more:
early next year, the European Union needs to take a long, cool look at its own face, as it appears in the Belarussian mirror. It may not be a pretty sight.
Read Belarus may seem a far away country, but we have to confront Europe’s Mugabe at guardian.co.uk.