Belarus has been under the ever-tightening authoritarian grip of Alyaksandr Lukashenka since 1994, including a series of deeply flawed elections. But the presidential election on 9 August 2020 propelled the country into a phase of unprecedented popular mobilisation for democracy and human dignity - joint opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya confounded the regime's presumption of dominance through patronage and fear with a resounding electoral victory.
The rigged official results, unsurprisingly, saw Lukashenka named as the winner. The surprise which followed was the massive, snowballing popular rejection of the electoral theft. These demonstrations were met by unprecedented levels of violent repression, including documented rapes, brutal beatings, murders in security force custody, and mass detentions.
Tsikhanouskaya, now operating from Vilnius, has designated 7 February 2021 the Day of Solidarity with Belarus. The Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), together with the Schools of International Relations and History at the University of St Andrews, has assembled a panel to discuss the current situation, what the democratic world's policy responses should be, and how ordinary citizens can show solidarity.
Andrei Dynko, editor of Nasha Niva
Alexandra Logvinova, head of public outreach for Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
Dr Tomasz Kamusella, Reader at University of St Andrews School of History
Professor Rick Fawn, Professor at University of St Andrews School of International Relations
Dr Tim Wilson, Director of CSTPV
Stephen Gethins, Professor in Practice at University School of International Relations
Dr Kurt Bassuener, Seniro Associate at Democratisation Policy Council
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