US embassy advisory warning on Belarusian protests to expire

An advisory warning issued by the US embassy in Minsk is set to expire today. The embassy warned US citizens

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Source: Reuters

An advisory warning issued by the US embassy in Minsk is set to expire today.

The embassy warned US citizens residing in Belarus to exercise caution ahead of potential rallies, assemblies, protests and demonstrations associated with Freedom Day—Belarus’s March 25 independence day celebration.

A total of 245 people were arrested in 23 cities and towns across Belarus this Freedom Day, with 176 in Minsk alone. In 2020, the Belarusian government detained more than 33,000 anti-government protesters after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide re-election victory last August.

The turmoil has worsened diplomatic relations between Belarus and its regional neighbours; for example, Poland is demanding the release of two Poles who were arrested for participating.

Should protests in Belarus persist and Lukashenko continue to refuse to resign, anticipate relations between Belarus and the EU to continue to worsen—and likely relations between Belarus and the US as well, should the new administration of Joe Biden openly support Lukashenko’s resignation.

In the short-term, protests are likely to lead to further diplomatic disputes, akin to that with Poland. In the medium- to long-term, relations between the EU and Lukashenko-supporting Russia are likely to deteriorate, for as long as the standoff over Belarus’ political future continues.

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