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

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…

Former death row inmate celebrates his independence

Paul House says you'll have to excuse him if he isn't feeling especially patriotic this Fourth of July.

House, 46, spent 22 years on Tennessee's death row for the rape and murder of his neighbor, Carolyn Muncey, in 1985.

Thanks to an appeals court ruling, House was released Wednesday, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that new DNA evidence could have led a jury to acquit him.

House, who has multiple sclerosis, is thrilled to be spending July Fourth with his family for the first time in more than 22 years. But he admits that his experience has changed him.

"I'm not patriotic at all, and I don't think I should be because of what those idiots have done to me," House said Friday in a phone interview from his mother's home in Crossville, Tennessee. "I think I may have forgiven them, but who knows."

Despite his reluctant patriotism, House is looking forward to the BBQ and fireworks his mother has prepared.

"I gave up on feeling anything, but boy, I'm in mama's house now and I feel good, better than I felt in prison," he said. "Prison sucks."

His mother, Joyce, says having her son home makes this Independence Day even more special.

"It feels great. I don't have to worry about him every night and every day. It's just fantastic," she said.

Looking ahead, Joyce House's days will be filled with caring for her son and shuttling him among doctors. She has also retrofitted her home with rails and a ramp so he can get around in a wheelchair.

"I've done my research so I'm ready for it. It's better than him being in prison," she said.

House denies that he was involved in Muncey's death. He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court based on new tests that revealed the presence of DNA from Muncey's husband on her body.

The high court sent his case back to district court, where U.S. District Court Judge Harry Mattice Jr. ruled in December that the state must retry House or release him.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judge's decision. House is scheduled for retrial in October, though prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

As he awaits trial, House says he is looking forward to sitting on his mother's back deck, watching television and maybe playing a game of poker. But most of all, he is looking forward to the food.

"I'm sitting here eating a Nestle Crunch bar and it tastes great," he said. "They don't feed you too well in prison."

Source: CNN.com

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