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All enemies cornered as Belarus heads to elections

All enemies cornered as Belarus heads to elections

It has been more than a year since the last sign of life appeared from Maria Kolesnikova. The democracy activist was sentenced in 2021 to eleven years in prison for his role in the 2020 mass protests against Lukashenko, which followed a rigged presidential election in favor of the authoritarian leader.

Kolesnikova's relatives believe she is isolated in one of the country's notorious penal colonies Watchman. The last message to the family, dated February 14, 2023, ended with the phrase, “Everything will be fine.”

There are at least 1,430 political prisoners currently detained in Belarus, according to the human rights organization Viasna. They include 2022 Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski and former presidential aspirant Viktor Babariko.

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Lukashenko at the polls: The opposition spreads anxiety in society picture: AP

Pressure on relatives

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who leads the Belarusian opposition from exile in Lithuania, has not heard from her imprisoned husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, for several months. this week Reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Their imprisoned correspondent, Igor Losek, has not contacted his family for a year.

In recent years, many political prisoners have died due to lack of adequate care. Last week, regime critic Igor Lednik died in a Belarusian prison.

Monitors are prohibited

The parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday are the first in Belarus after the protests of 2020. Since then, the authoritarian rule of Alexander Lukashenko has increased the oppression of the population by the day. The country falls on the Global Democracy Index.

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Any forces critical of the regime are not allowed to enter the parliamentary elections, and foreign observers are not welcomed. The election is only intended to strengthen Lukashenko's iron grip on power, writes the government organization Idea Democracy. In the current situation.

In January, Lukashenko signed a law amendment granting him criminal immunity for the rest of his life, the Associated Press reported. The law also prohibits opposition parties in exile from running in the upcoming presidential elections.