Belarus: Soviet Holdout? Or Pariah State?

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Photo by: Creative Commons

Belarus is a landlocked country in eastern Europe, bordering the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Baltic nations. Famous for its gorgeous forests, and beautiful textiles, as well as its strong connection to Russia. Being a founding SSR of the former Soviet Union, it has a strong connection to many other post-Soviet states (barring the Baltics and the Ukraine). However, many western democracies consider it a dictatorship.

 

Western media refers to Belarus as “Europe’s Last Dictatorship”, accusing it of Stalin-style purges and Putin-style oligarchy. The infamous Alexander Lukashenko has been in office since the mid 1990s, and he has done numerous deeds deemed as “undemocratic” and “fascistic”. From censoring the internet to silencing dissidents, Lukashenko has quite the track record when it comes to human rights abuses. Belarus is also the last european country to employ the Death Penalty.

 

Supporters of this country argue that they are keeping their sovereignty, as a walk through Minsk (the capital) is like walking back into the USSR. Red banners, Lenin statues and WW2 tanks. The current Belarusian flag is based on the Belarusian SSR’s flag, minus the hammer and sickle and red star. Coupled with massive military marches, one may understand why the amount of patriotism and nostalgia. This awesome display of military might is paraded in order to strike fear within the enemies. Supporters also argue that this discrimination on a global scale is the same applied to Palestine, Venezuela and North Korea, in order to make the nation look bad.

 

While it isn’t exactly the command and control socialist state it once was, Belarus is considered a piece of Soviet history, surviving within the 21st century, alongside the unrecognized Transnistria. To the common outsider, it is a menacing state, as many tourists feel as if they’re being watched. This is more than enough to provoke western nations to raise suspicion towards this isolated republic.

 

The US, EU and even the UN have bankrolled and fueled campaigns to democratically remove Lukashenko from power. That is enough to fuel hostile relations… enough possibly to bring in other major powers (such as Russia and China). Some theorize that if World War 3 happens, Belarus would be a key part within the European curtain. However long it remains in this state, the war-torn eastern europe may get uglier, by protest or war.