CrisisWatch Belarus

Unchanged Situation

Authorities deepened crackdown, arresting over 200 people in lead-up to February elections; govt proposed new military doctrine. 

Authorities conducted mass raids as crackdown escalated. In lead-up to Feb parliamentary elections, Viasna human rights centre 23 Jan said authorities detained or interrogated scores for alleged “involvement in extremist groups”, including former political prisoners; as of 30 Jan, over 200 people “persecuted” amid ever-worsening crackdown. EU and U.S. 25 Jan decried “wave of repression”. 

Minsk announced monitors for Feb elections. Govt 5 Jan invited Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Commonwealth of Independent States – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics – to observe 25 Feb polls, 8 Jan announced it would not invite Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe due to organisation’s “double standards”. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya 12 Jan reiterated call to boycott elections. 

Minsk put forward updated national security doctrine. Lukashenko 16 Jan convened Security Council to discuss updated military doctrine draft, which for first time provides for use of nuclear weapons (Russia stationed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in 2023). Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin 19 Jan said weapons were “an important component” of doctrine’s overall focus on “preventive deterrence of potential adversaries”. Meanwhile, Lukashenko 29 Jan met with Russian President Putin 29 Jan in Russian city St. Petersburg to discuss ways to deepen alliance.

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