‘Friends in Need’ Russia, China Coming to Belarus’ Aid, Embattled Leader Lukashenko Says
Embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been facing mass street protests demanding his resignation since early August 2020, has praised the support that his regime has been receiving from “friends in need” Russia and China.
Lukashenko, formerly considered one of the most stable and iron-fisted authoritarian ruler in the world, especially lauded Russian and Chinese support because what he described as extraordinary “foreign pressure” being put on Belarus.
“At a time of unprecedented external pressure, Belarus has received wide-ranging support from its traditional allies,” the Belarusian leader declared on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, during a government session against the backdrop of continuing civic protests against his rule.
“We have received the most tangible assistance and support during this difficult time from Russia, China and other countries. Thus, once again we’ve been reassured that a friend in need is a friend indeed,” Lukashenko commented, as cited by government news agencies BelTA in Belarus and Tass in Russia.
According to the report, he discussed the further development of Belarus’ relations with Russia and China as well as the realization of agreements reached with visiting Russian officials earlier in 2020.
Last Friday, Lukashenko told foreign media that Belarus would never abandon its alliance with Russia and substitute it with close relations with other countries.
He also argued that the Belarusian government had never turned its back on Russia and never betrayed the interests of Russian-Belarusian cooperation.
The statements in question are markedly different from the period before the August 2020 presidential election in Belarus when he was making hints at a potential coup for his toppling organized by Moscow.
According to official results, Lukashenko won the August 9, 2020, presidential election with 80% of the votes vs. 10% for opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Hundreds of thousands of participants in mass protest rallies in Minsk and elsewhere in Belarus since then, however, insist that the election had been rigged, and have been demanding Lukashenko’s resignation.
Ensuing violent crackdowns on the street protests have worsened the political crisis in Belarus casting doubt on Lukashenko’s legitimacy as state leader, and leading top Western powers, the EU, the US, the UK, and Canada to impose sanctions on numerous Belarusian officials.
Opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has since left Belarus for neighboring EU member state Lithuania fearing for her safety.