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Belarus

Yearbook 2000

Belarus. In January, a trial was opened against former Prime Minister Michail Chyhir, who was charged with abuse of power. He had, among other things, participated in the alternative presidential elections organized by the opposition in 1999. Chyhir had left his post in 1996 in protest of President Aljaksandr Lukashenka giving himself almost dictatorial powers.

2000 Belarus

According to COUNTRYAAH, Chyhir's successor as Prime Minister, Siarhej Linh, was dismissed by Lukashenka in February. The president claimed that Linh asked to resign, but a spokesman for Linh said the dismissal came as a surprise. To Linh's successor, President Uladzimir Jarmoshin, the mayor of the capital Minsk, hitherto appointed.

In March, Andrej Klimaw, Lukashenka's leading opponent, was sentenced to six years in prison for "fraud". The charges were considered politically motivated. In March, the opposition held a demonstration in Minsk in protest against Lukashenka's regime. About 20,000 people participated and over 270 people were arrested by police. Lukashenka, who was abroad at the time, later called the police action a mistake and dismissed Interior Minister Michail Udovikow.

In May, Michail Chyhir was sentenced to three years imprisonment and fines corresponding to more than SEK 2 million. He was also banned from holding public office for five years. Chyhir was alleged to have abused his power in 1995 by excluding a private company from the import duty requirement. Chyhir said the charges were politically motivated. In June, two other opposition leaders were sentenced to conditional prison sentences for having participated in organizing a demonstration against the regime in 1999. However, an appellate court set aside the verdict and returned the case to the first instance.

Several opponents of Lukashenka "disappeared" during the year. One of them was a Russian TV photographer, who had previously worked for Lukashenka but then made critical review reports. At the same time, the search for former Interior Minister Yuriy Zacharenko, who has been missing since 1999.

Most opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary elections in October. Many candidates were prevented from participating, and the opposition expected the election itself to be settled in advance. According to the State Electoral Commission, turnout was over 60%, but the opposition said it did not reach up to 45% and would thus be annulled. In the cities, turnout was low, but the opposition boycott had not been heard in the countryside, where Lukashenka has its strong support.

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