Online Event: Has Belarus Reached a Point of No Return?
Following a stolen election which allowed 26-year strongman ruler Alexander Lukashenko to claim a landslide victory, tens of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets across more than 30 towns and cities to demand his resignation and new elections. Met with shocking brutality, armed police and interior ministry troops have been deployed by the thousands, indiscriminately attacking protestors and journalists with live and rubber bullets as well as flash grenades. Despite the violence, massive protests have continued into the week even as authorities disabled internet connections in the evenings and, as of August 12, detained more than 6,000 protestors.
The situation remains dynamic. Opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has fled to neighboring Lithuania under duress after conceding defeat in what appeared to be a forced televised address. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the first leaders to congratulate Lukashenko for his victory, hinted in his message that Moscow’s support for the embattled president may be contingent on Belarus’ further integration with Russia. The United States and European Union have condemned the crackdown, and EU foreign ministers are set to meet on August 14 to discuss targeted sanctions.
Has Belarus passed the point of no return where Lukashenko’s leadership is no longer tenable? Can the opposition movement inside the country continue without a leader? How might Russia respond in the event of an escalation in protestsand Lukashenko’s departure? What are the implications for European security? How should the United States and European Union respond to these developments? Joining us to discuss these questions and others are Valery Tsepkalo, a prominent opposition figure in Belarus and former ambassador to the United States and Mexico,who was barred from running in the election and recently fled the country, and Vladislav Inozemtsev, a non-resident senior associate with the Russia and Eurasia Program at CSIS and an advisor to many opposition figures in Russia and across the post-Soviet space. Heather A. Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and Director of the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program will moderate.
This event is made possible by the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.