Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime is preparing for a vote on February 27, intended to consolidate his reign and potentially disrupt the country's nuclear-free status. The upcoming vote has elicited criticism from the country's opposition, amidst a tense backdrop with Russia continuing its aggressive stance towards Ukraine, involving thousands of troops being deployed from Belarus. Remarkably, the proposed changes would grant Lukashenko immunity from prosecution and impose a two-term limit for office, each lasting five years. However, these restrictions would only apply prospectively, allowing Lukashenko to maintain his rule until the age of 81.
Crackdown on Independent Media
In a related development in Minsk, company Tut.by Media has been declared extremist and its operations in Belarus have been banned, signaling a continued crackdown on independent media and journalists. In August last year, news outlet Tut.by and media site Zerkalo.io, both owned by Tut.by Media, were blocked by Belarusian authorities. The authorities also froze the company's bank accounts and detained several staff members on accusations of tax evasion.
Opposition Under Pressure
The Speaker of the Coordination Council has spoken out about the recent searches at the residences of Coordination Council members, interpreting it as a sign of Lukashenko's fear of fair elections. The Coordination Council, presumably an opposition group, appears to be under increasing pressure from governmental forces. This incident forms part of the broader narrative concerning the political climate in Belarus, where the principles of fair elections and freedom of speech continue to be challenged.