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.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Belarus is Minsk. 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 citizens.
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.