Long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko cut off internet across most of Belarus as the country explodes into angry protests in the wake of contested presidential elections. Riot police are unleashing harsh repression, using rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and water hoses against demonstrators. One person has been reported killed and many more wounded, including several police officers. According to preliminary results, Lukashenko won an unlikely 80% of the vote, with the main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya taking only 10%. Tikhanovskaya was a surprise replacement for her husband Sergei, a popular blogger who was arrested after he attempted to launch his candidacy. She held large rallies in Minsk and other cities, riding a groundswell of discontent with Lukashenko. (Photo: Meduza)
With whole nations under lockdown, sweeping powers are being assumed by governments across the world in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungary’s parliament voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. The Russian parliament has approved an “anti-virus” package that includes up to seven years imprisonment for serious violations of quarantine rules. Israel has joined South Korea in authorizing use of personal cellphone data to track the virus. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has declared a “state of catastrophe,” sending the military to public squares recently occupied by protesters. Military patrols are also enforcing the lockdown in Peru, Italy, Romania and South Africa. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. (Photo: Peruvian army demonstration video, via YouTube)
In a perverse spectacle, the Trump administration, which is establishing its own incipient concentration camp system for undocumented immigrants, makes a great show of feigning concern with the mass detention of the Uighurs in China’s “re-education camps.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s treatment of the Uighurs the “stain of the century,” and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a US-hosted conference on religious freedom then opening in Washington. At the conference, Donald Trump actually met at the Oval Office with Jewher Ilham, daughter of the imprisoned Uighur scholar Ilham Tothi. It is hard to fault the Ughurs for being heartened by this international attention, but it is clear that they are being exploited for propaganda purposes. (Photo: Mvslim.com)
In Episode 31 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg documents the ugly far-right politics of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and how the 2010 document dump risked the lives of dissidents under authoritarian regimes in places like Zimbabwe—and may have constituted outright collaboration with the repressive dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. An objective reading of the circumstances around the 2016 Wikileaks dump of Democratic Party e-mails reveals Assange as a Kremlin asset and Trump collaborator, an active agent in a Russian-lubricated effort to throw the US elections—part of Putin’s grander design to impose a fascist world order. Weinberg also notes that the ACLU and Committee to Protect Journalists have issued statements warning that the charges against Assange may pose a threat to press freedom. But he argues that even if we must protest his prosecution, we should do so while refraining from glorifying Assange—and, indeed, while forthrightly repudiating him as a dangerous political enemy of all progressive values. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo Libcom.org)
Riot police raided a bookstore in the Belarusian city of Hrodno, interrupting a lecture by anarchist historian Pyotr Ryabov, who was visiting from Moscow, and arresting him on the pretext of breaking up an "unsanctioned mass gathering." Ryabov, who had been giving a presentation on "Libertarian Social Thought," was convicted on charges of "hooliganism" and sentenced to six days in jail. He spent the six days on hunger strike
The UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus reports that the human rights situation in the ex-Soviet republic has dramatically deteriorated since the repression of a new round of protests.
Amid disingenuous demands for the "evidence," all the political logic points to Russia being behind the hacks in an intentional strategy to throw the US election to Trump.
Hackers linked to Russian state intelligence used WikiLeaks to throw the US election, so Trump and Putin can instate a fascist order worldwide. Yes, we're serious.
The Ukrainian protesters are demonized as "fascists," exploiting far-right elements in their ranks—but there is a far greater case that the Yanukovich regime is truly "fascist."
A group calling themselves "Lukashenko Busters" protested outside the London Stock Exchange to oppose trading in companies that do business with wth the Belarus dictatorship.
Julian Assange’s supporters accuse the media of hypocrisy in pointing to Ecuador’s sketchy record on press freedom—but come dangerously close to apologizing for repression.
Just as Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange, President Rafael Correa’s government moves to rescind the asylum status granted to a whistleblower from Belarus.