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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

South Carolina executes man in electric chair


MIAMI (Reuters) - South Carolina on Friday electrocuted a man for murdering his ex-girlfriend's parents in 1994, the second execution in the state since a Supreme Court ruling lifted a de facto national moratorium, a state official said.

James Earl Reed, 49, was convicted in 1996 of shooting Joseph and Barbara Lafayette multiple times, including execution-style shots in the heads, after they refused to tell him where their daughter was. He had dismissed his attorney during his trial and tried to defend himself in court.

"The execution of James Earl Reed was carried out at 11:27 p.m.," state prison spokesman Josh Gelinas said.

The execution had been scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT but was halted at the last minute and delayed for nearly 5 1/2 hours while lawyers made final appeals.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately cleared the way for the execution.

Reed became the eighth person to be put to death in the United States since the high court in April rejected a legal challenge to the three-drug cocktail used in most executions for the past 30 years.

Reed chose to die in the electric chair, the first death row inmate in South Carolina in more than four years to choose electrocution over lethal injection.

Most states use lethal injection as their primary method of execution. But some, like South Carolina, give death row inmates other options, like the electric chair, or gas chamber. Hanging and firing squad are still used in a small number of states.

In April, the Supreme Court rejected by a vote of 7-2 a challenge by two Kentucky death row inmates who argued the current lethal injection method inflicts needless pain and suffering in violation of a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


Source: Reuters, June 21, 2008

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