Alexander Lukashenko: Find out who is Putin's ally in Europe
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday (04/01) approved a new law that guarantees him lifelong immunity from criminal prosecution and prevents opposition leaders living abroad from running in the upcoming presidential elections.
The text states that when – or if – Lukashenko leaves power “he cannot be held liable for actions taken in connection with the exercise of his presidential powers.” Lukashenko, considered “Europe's last dictator,” has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for nearly 30 years.
The president and his family members will receive lifelong protection from the state, as well as medical care, health and life insurance. After leaving office, the head of government will automatically become a life member of the Upper House of Parliament – the legislative body corresponding to the Senate.
The measure has the potential to further entrench Lukashenko in power and eliminate potential rivals in the next presidential election scheduled for 2025, such as the opposition leader and candidate Lukashenko allegedly defeated in the 2020 election, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
The law increases the basic requirements for potential nominations and prohibits opposition leaders who have had to flee the country from running in the elections. Only citizens of Belarus who have lived in the country permanently for at least 20 years and have never obtained a residence permit in any other country are eligible to compete.
Arresting or exiling opponents
In 2020, Lukashenko was re-elected amid numerous allegations of fraud by the opposition and Western countries. The result generated a wave of mass protests in the country, which the regime brutally suppressed. At that time, more than 35,000 people were arrested, many of whom were victims of torture or had to leave the country.
The Belarusian regime is one of the main supporters of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Lukashenko, a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is also accused of involvement in the illegal deportation of children from Russian-occupied Ukrainian cities to Belarus.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said the new law reflects Lukashenko's fear of the “inevitable future” and his anxiety about what might happen when he leaves power.
“No immunity will protect you.”
The opposition figure, who fled the country in 2020 amid political persecution, said: “Lukashenko, who destroyed the fate of thousands of Belarusians, will be punished according to international laws, and no immunity will protect him from that. It is only a matter of time.” He went into exile in Lithuania.
The Belarusian opposition aims to launch an investigation into the disappearance of opponents and the illegal sending of Ukrainian children to Belarus.
He added: “We will ensure that the dictator is brought to justice.” She noted that there are currently about 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus, including her husband, opposition blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Alice Bialiatsky.
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