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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…

Sister Helen Prejean: Starting a conversation with President Obama

President Obama met with the press before his visit with Pope Benedict on July 10. He talked about how he admired Cardinal Bernardine’s “seamless garment” approach to pro-life, that the cardinal included in its scope a wide range of issues: “He was concerned about poverty, he was concerned with how children were treated, he was concerned about the death penalty…”

Now here’s interesting fodder for a conversation with President Obama. For starters: “Aren’t you, too, very, very concerned about the fact that already 135 innocent people have been released from death row? How many will it take before we recognize the failed system? Not to mention the shocking, appalling racist application of the death penalty presently carried out in the Deep South states.”

Do you have any ideas about how we might get a conversation going with President Obama and his wife, Michelle, about this issue? Would you like to help us mount a young people’s letter writing campaign to the White House to end the death penalty in the U.S.?

Think boldly. Organize strategically. Act quickly. Please respond and let me know your thinking!

- Sister Helen, July 22, 2009

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