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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…

Indonesia sentences American man to 9 1/3 years for drugs

Bali's Kerobokan prison
DENPASAR, Indonesia — An Indonesian court sentenced an American man to 9 1/3 years in prison on Monday after finding him guilty of selling cocaine and marijuana on the resort island of Bali.

Police said Ian Andrew Hernandez of California was arrested last May with 10 small plastic packs containing 6.6 grams of cocaine and a pack with 23.7 grams of marijuana at his rented house on the island. The raid on the house followed a tip from a member of the community.

Police also seized electric scales, cigarette papers and a cellphone allegedly used to receive orders for drugs from tourists through text messages. The indictment said Hernandez confessed that the devices and drugs were his.

Hernandez, 31, sat silently as a panel of three judges at Denpasar District Court handed down the punishment. They also ordered him to pay a fine of 1 billion rupiah ($72,885) or serve two more months behind bars.

"The defendant did commit a crime that has tarnished Bali as a tourist destination," said Presiding Judge Koni Hartanto. "What he has done is contrary to government efforts to fight drug trafficking."

Hernandez declined to speak to reporters on his way back to prison.

Prosecutors had sought a 14-year sentence, but the judges said they reduced the penalty because Hernandez regretted his acts and promised to reform.

Hernandez's lawyer, Made Suardika Adnyana, told the court that his client accepted the verdict.

Indonesia has strict drug laws and convicted traffickers are sometimes executed by firing squad. 

More than 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About a third are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offenses have been executed under the current administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Last year, a Frenchman was sentenced to death on Lombok, an island next to Bali, for smuggling 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of ecstasy, before a higher court commuted his sentence to 19 years in prison.

Source: The Associated Press, Staff, January 13, 2020


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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