Belarus. Belarus is increasingly becoming a European
child of grief. During the year, despotic President
Aljaksandr Lukashenka continued to oppress political
opposition and prevent freedom of speech and demonstration.
Countryaah, Russia's economic crisis came to hit the Union partner
Belarus with high food prices for the already hard-hit
population. The queues that were part of everyday life in
Soviet times became a common sight again. To cure the
economic crisis, the president had more banknotes printed -
to withdraw from the foreign exchange reserve proved
impossible because none of them existed. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) closed its office in the capital Minsk
during the summer.
Belarus's relationship with Poland deteriorated during
the year, including after the Belarusian regime accused NATO
of building large spy centers in Poland. After a meeting
with Polish and Belarusian civil rights activists in Poland,
Minsk decided to call his ambassador for consultations. The
bad relations are also linked to the fact that Poland, in
its EU adaptation, tightened the visa rules for Belarusian
In April, without warning, Lukashenka ordered a number of
country ambassadors to evacuate their residences outside the
capital, according to the president, for the housing to be
renovated. The ambassadors protested because the homes were
newly repaired. In fact, the president wanted to reserve the
renovated area for himself and his faithful yes-sayers and
associates. The EU responded by allowing its ambassadors to
leave home and refused to issue visas to President
Lukashenka and a long list of Belarusian politicians and
diplomats. It was not until the end of the year that a
settlement was reached and the already isolated Minsk was
for a half year a city without foreign ambassadors.
In October 2015, Lukashenka was re-elected president with
83.5% of the vote. As a "thank you" for its criticism of
Russia and the mediation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict in
2014, and for the August release of 5 political prisoners,
the EU in October lifted the sanctions against a number of
high-ranking Belarusian officials, except for 4 believed to
be involved in the disappearances. of opposites the previous
years. The aim was also to bring the country closer to the
EU. In 2015, it was hit hard by the economic crisis in
Russia, which was its main trading partner. The economy was
thought to shrink by 4% and the value of the country's
currency against the US dollar fell by 50%.
In February 2016, the EU abolished almost all sanctions
against Belarus - except for 4 officials who were accused of
being involved in disappearances in 1999-2000. It was
considered the EU's thanks to Belarus for its role as
mediator in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
On July 1, the authorities cleared 4 of the zeros in the
Belarusian currency, which had been under severe pressure
from the previous ones.
In September 2016, the authorities conducted
«parliamentary elections». Only 2 of Parliament's 110
members were counted as part of the opposition. The rest was
in various ways linked to the Lukashenko regime. It
continued its harassment of media, journalists, opposition
and human rights activists.
At least 4 people had their death sentence executed in
2016. The state almost always executes the convicted without
informing the family or the media in advance.