The Belarusians have been protesting for months against ruler Lukashenko – and for their freedom. Now the sworn corona denier is closing the lines to protect himself from the virus. Criticism comes from the opposition.
Belarus temporarily restricts the exit from the country en masse and calls the move a corona protection measure. According to a government resolution published on Thursday, Belarusians and foreigners with a residence permit will no longer be allowed to leave the country through checkpoints at roads and train stations from December 21. Checkpoints in river ports should also be affected by the regulation.
“Covid has not bothered him so far”
In the eyes of civil rights activist Svetlana Tikhanovaya, ruler Alexander Lukashenko Corona is only using Corona as a pretext: “Covid has not bothered him so far,” Tichanowskaja wrote on Twitter. “Now oppressed Belarusians cannot flee and apply for asylum abroad.” The opposition portal Nexta wrote on Telegram about a “new iron curtain”. The independent news portal “tut.by” recalled that Lukashenko had described a border closure due to Corona in March as “hollow”. He recently made fun of corona patients.
According to a government announcement, an excursion may only be allowed in exceptional cases, for example in the event of serious illness or death of a family member abroad. In addition, diplomats and civil servants, among others, would be exempt from the restrictions.
Protests have been going on for months
Belarus has been in a serious domestic political crisis since the presidential elections on 9 August. Lukashenko, criticized as “Europe’s last dictator”, declared himself the winner with 80.1 percent of the vote. However, the opposition sees Tichanovskaya as the real winner. For months, the democracy movement has been calling for Lukashenko’s resignation, an end to police violence against peaceful protesters, the release of all political prisoners and new elections. The EU no longer recognizes Lukashenko as president.