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…

Ecuador: Indian town drops death penalty in murder case

An Indian community that sentenced a young man to death by hanging for the murder of another man softened his punishment Sunday, ordering him to do five years of community service instead.

Orlando Quishpe, 21, was also subjected to punishments that included carrying a heavy sack of dirt, an ice-water bath and a public whipping with a thorny plant while he was forced to beg forgiveness.

Ecuador's attorney general had threatened legal action against the community after it ordered Quishpe's execution last week, because the South American nation does not allow the death penalty.

The Indians refused the government's request that the suspect be handed over to the regular courts. Ecuador's constitution recognizes indigenous justice as long as it does not violate the charter or human rights.

An assembly of residents in La Cocha, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) from the capital, debated for 6 hours Sunday and dropped the death penalty.

They decided Quishpe will carry out "5 years of work in the field," community leader Ricardo Chaluisa told reporters. He said the work would be supervised by members of Quishpe's home community, Guantopolo.

Before he was turned over to leaders from Guantopolo, Quishpe, who works as a carpenter and is in a rock band, underwent a day of punishment.

Nearly naked, he first was made to hold a sack of dirt for 10 minutes. Tied to a whipping post, he was doused in an icy bath and beaten with nettles while he apologized to the townspeople – although he denied any guilt in the slaying of Marco Olivo, 21.

Olivo was beaten and then hanged with a belt on May 9. Town leaders accused Quishpe of using his belt in the killing. No motive for the attack has been released.

4 other young men underwent a day of punishment for the crime a week ago. The community said they confessed to participating in the attack.

Source: Associated Press, May 29, 2010

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