On Thursday, roughly 5,000 Belarusian citizens flooded the capital city of Minsk with large scale demonstrations ahead of the August 9 presidential election. Belarusians are hopeful that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya can topple Alexander Lukashenko.
The Belarusian President’s primary political opponent is Tikhanovskaya, 37, who decided to run after her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, was imprisoned in May. Tikhanovskaya has promised to free political prisoners and hold a fair election within six months of taking office.
Multiple protestors could be heard chanting Tikhanovskaya’s name during demonstrations on Thursday.
There is growing optimism that this may the be end for Belarusian dictator Lukashenko, aptly named ‘Europe’s last dictator.’ Although Belarus has a documented history of rigged elections and imprisonment of political oppositionists, Lukashenko may face his biggest challenge yet with declining public confidence in the regime.
For many Belarusians, Lukashenko’s demise has been long in the making with a worsening economic climate, bungled handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a laundry list of political repression.