Belarus’ Lukashenko Gestures Toward Openness in a Bid to Impress the West

Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, as he casts his ballot during parliamentary elections, Minsk, Sept. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).
Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, as he casts his ballot during parliamentary elections, Minsk, Sept. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).
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In last month’s elections in Belarus, opposition members picked up seats in parliament for the first time since 1996. For most of its independence from the Soviet Union, Belarus has been under the firm control of Alexander Lukashenko, frequently described as Europe’s last dictator. Lukashenko claims no political party, and neither do most members of parliament, which functions as a rubber stamp for him. But the ascension of Anna Konopatskaya, of the United Civic Party, and Elena Anisim, a linguist with ties to opposition activists, sends a clear if symbolic message that Lukashenko is anxious, both about his own internal […]

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