What is happening in Belarus?

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Huge protests are taking place in the country of Belarus at the moment.

Over the last week there have been violent clashes with the police. A small number of people have died and almost 7,000 people have been arrested, according to Belarussian authorities.

One of the reasons for the protests is that many people in Belarus feel that the recent election was not fair.

A vote to decide who would be the President took place on Sunday 9 August.

Alexander Lukashenko, who is the country’s current ruler, won with 80.1% of the votes. But many people say the results aren’t accurate and the voting system has been tampered with.

The election was also condemned by the European Union and the United States. Both groups said it was ‘neither free nor fair’.

Where is Belarus?

Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe bordering Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia.

It has a population of around 9.5 million people. People there speak a combination of Russian and Belarussian.

However, freedom of speech, especially political freedom are very restricted in Belarus compared to other countries in Europe.

Belarus has nine national TV channels – all of these are controlled by the government, as are the majority of newspapers.

The internet is one of the few places where people can speak freely in Belarus, however the government has tried to increase control over online media.

Who is Alexander Lukashenko?

Belarus has been under president Alexander Lukashenko’s leadership for the last 26 years – the longest serving ruler of any country in Europe.

He came into power in 1994.

His leadership style has brought a lot of criticism from other countries, and human rights groups have accused him of widespread abuses.

Alexander Lukashenko once said that that anyone joining an opposition protest against him, would be treated as a “terrorist”.

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