This year’s presidential campaign in Belarus turned violent earlier than expected: the authorities started to repress the opposition months before the vote, which is to be held on 9 August.
The brutal suppression of peaceful protests and the arrests of activists and candidates create a dilemma for the West: by opposing the human rights abuses firmly, the West often sees it as compromising years of attempts to build relations with the Lukashenka government. However, failing to oppose the abuses would not only undermine the West’s already tattered principles, but also signals to the Belarusian authorities that they can get away with further repressions in the weeks to come.
This expert discussion on the Belarusian presidential election is followed by questions and discussion. What are the possible scenarios for 9 August? Is this election campaign genuinely different? What is the level of human rights violations? What is the current position of the West and what, if anything, can the West do in the light of the new wave of repressions? What might Russia do?
Ryhor Astapenia, Robert Bosch Stiftung Academy Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
Maryna Rakhlei, Senior Program Officer, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Andrei Kazakevich, Director, Institute of Political Studies “Palitychnaya Sfera”
Anaïs Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights; Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
Nikolai Petrov, Senior Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
James Nixey, Programme Director, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
Keir Giles, Senior Consulting Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House