Saturday 15 August 2020 Belarus Update: Lukashenko Turns To Moscow?

The pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is not easing. Nearly one week after claiming a landslide victory in the 9 August presidential election, protests continue around Belarus and despite the efforts of the government, they are increasing in size, and attitude. Today thousands of protesters rallied outside of the state television studio in Minsk and demanded full coverage of the protests against the disputed election, and the demonstrations that followed. State television did not broadcast video of the demonstrations and violence. Around Minsk other protests also took place today including one at the metro station where a protester died last Monday. The cause of death remains unclear. Government officials claim an explosive device went off in his hands, but opposition leaders have disputed the claim.

With his hold on power becoming tenuous, Lukashenko is turning to Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin for help. The two leaders spoke today with Lukashenko claiming he secured a pledge from Russia to provide comprehensive security assistance to Belarus if needed. The Russian government has not mentioned a pledge but it is not outside the realm of possibility. Even though relations between Russia and Belarus have become strained lately, Moscow continues to regard the nation as vital to Russia’s interests and security. Much in the same light it once regarded Ukraine, the Kremlin views Belarus as a buffer against the West. As was the case with Ukraine, the Kremlin would view the collapse of a friendly government in Belarus to be a security threat to all of Russia, and act accordingly.

Author’s Note: There is a lot going on around the world this weekend and as a result, many areas to cover. For today through Monday I’m going to concentrate on brief updates unless a major event occurs. At the start of the week I’ll look around and decide which area takes precedence and go from there. Hope everyone’s having a good weekend. – Mike

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