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Belarusian president’s fifth term to end


Belarusian president’s fifth term to end

Lukashenko term ends
Photo: Andrei Stasevich/ AFP/ Getty

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s fifth term ends today amid ongoing protests against his regime.

Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in a highly disputed election this August, triggering massive protests across the former Soviet Republic. EU and US leaders have condemned Lukashenko’s re-inauguration as illegitimate, and have sanctioned the regime’s high officials with travel bans and asset freezes. Protests and clashes with police surged last weekend after Lukashenko ignored their demand for his resignation by Sunday night. The resulting police brutality and repression will likely fuel further cycles of protests.

But, whatever the circumstances on the streets or in Brussels, the core institutions of the Belarusian state remain under Lukashenko’s control, including the military, police, judiciary, parliament and civil service. Moreover, Moscow’s military and financial backing means Lukashenko can weather EU sanctions and international acrimony.

A possible change in American leadership will have little impact on this situation. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to expand sanctions on regime officials. However, this promise does not go much beyond the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and is unlikely to spur major change in Minsk.

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