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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…

Saudi Arabia beheads drug trafficker

Public execution by beheading
on a parking lot in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its nationals on Tuesday after he was convicted of drug trafficking, the Interior Ministry announced in a statement.

Musaed Al Ruweili was arrested as he tried to smuggle “a large number of narcotic pills into the kingdom,” said the statement, cited by the official SPA news agency.

He was beheaded by the sword in the northern Al Jawf province.

The execution brings to seven the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.

In 2012, the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Sharia, or Islamic law.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 29, 2013

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