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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 beheads Chadian national over drug trafficking

The Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday reported the kingdom had beheaded Abdulkarim Ibrahim Mousa Abkar, a Chadian national convicted of smuggling drugs. It was the fourteenth such execution in Saudi Arabia since the start of the new year.

Those convicted of charges that include murder, rape, drug trafficking, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft could be brought to the block in Saudi Arabia, which adheres to an extreme form of Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest state execution rates in the world. The kingdom put down at least 82 people in 2011 according to Amnesty International. Seventy-six people were beheaded in the kingdom last year according to an AFP tally, while Human Rights Watch has put the number at 69.

The kingdom has brushed off international calls for the kingdom to abolish the policy of beheading.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 2013

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