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…

Pennsylvania's death penalty exists in name only

Last week Gov. Ed Rendell signed 3 more death warrants, but don't expect the inmates to be executed any time soon.

Rendell, a death penalty supporter, has signed 113 execution warrants during his 2 terms. But it appears highly likely he will leave office in a little over 4 months without seeing any of them carried out.

Since Pennsylvania reinstated the death penalty in the 1970s, only 3 men have been put to death, and all had given up their appeals. The state's last contested execution occurred in 1962, even though the commonwealth currently has about 215 men and 5 women awaiting execution, including 50 who were sentenced back in the 1980s.

Despite the lack of executions and the continual flow of inmates sentenced to death by county courts, the number of inmates awaiting capital punishment is on a gradual decline.

At one point the Corrections Department housed nearly 250 condemned inmates, but their ranks have been thinned by appeals court and trial court reversals, resentencings to life in prison and deaths by natural causes and suicide.

But Pennsylvania still has the 4th-largest death row in the nation.

Source: Associated Press, August 28, 2010

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