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Belarus, or ‘White Russia’; a country considered the black hole of Europe, the last government run by what can only be described as a dictatorship faces mounting criticism and economic woe. An ‘Outpost of Tyranny’ — one of six countries labeled so by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in 2005.
Media censorship, rigged elections, a failing economy, and the imprisonment and torture of political prisoners plague this relatively new and unknown entity in Eastern Europe that became fully realized in 1991, but remains tied to Russia via a treaty for a Union State passed 1999.
The terrorizing secret police are routinely deployed and still referred to as the KGB in this country known to collaborate with autocrats like Qaddaffi. Grassroot protests originating on social-networking websites would gather in city squares every protest, only to be met with mass arrests.
Alexander Lukashenko has ruled this country of ten million people since 1994. In recent revelations, political prisoners serving upwards of six years manual labor are to be released in return of money granted by the IMF. Many prisoners include journalists and political rivals from the last election in December 2010.
The highest-profile detainee being former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov. Whom has reportedly been subjected to cruel torture while many fear for his life. Sannikov is currently awaiting transfer to the Babruisk penal colony, while many fear he will succumb to disease, malnutrition, or execution.
Journalists like the editor-in-chief of www.charter97.org, Natalya Radzina, have been arrested and beaten by KGB for articles critical of the Lukashenko regime. Harassment and raids of offices result in the confiscation of records and the arrest of activists. The neighboring country of Lithuania has since granted VISA citizenship and refugee status for activists like Radzina, where she and other Belarusian expats have formed and continue their efforts to stymie Lukashenko.
Trade deficit is over seven billion dollars, inflation expected to reach 100% by the end of the year. Average monthly salary is down to $200. Citizens are buying everything the stores have remaining on their shelves, as prices rise daily. Shortages of meat run rampant as Russians from the East buy in bulk due to favorable exchange rates.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also underlined the need for changes in Belarus before the EU could help during the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw on September 30, 2011. “For the first time, we have a situation in which the European Union, standing united, conditions aid for Belarus on real changes,” Tusk said.