Belarusian president Lukashenko holds talks on constitutional reform – from a prison
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting with 11 political prisoners – rivals from former presidential elections and members of the Opposition Coordination Council created after the elections – at a KGB detention center in Belarus, where allegedly constitutional reform was discussed.
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The meeting took place against the backdrop of yet another brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. Protest rallies in Belarus have been going on for almost two months since Lukashenko announced his victory after the August 19 elections. However, the opposition declared the elections rigged, and hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets.
According to the Belarusian state media, constitutional reform was discussed, and “the president wanted to hear everyone out.” According to these sources, “the conversation was constructive,” but “the participants agreed not to disclose the content.”
Independent journalists noted the absence of Maria Kolesnikova, one of the brightest and most popular figures of the Belarusian opposition, at this meeting.
The day after the meeting at the prison, two prisoners were released. They gave interviews in which they praised Lukashenko’s initiative and said that they were “instructed to prepare proposals for the constitutional reform.”
Independent media and experts have a different point of view on Alexander Lukashenko’s campaign in prison.
“The meeting of the Belarusian ruler with the political prisoners he caged is not a manifestation of generosity. This is a sign that things are very bad on the Russian front. This is a desperate attempt to scout out the possibility of exchanging political prisoners for ‘turning the page’ with the West,” said Andrei Eliseev of the EAST Research Center.
“Lukashenko’s situation is critical, and despite all the efforts and terror, the situation in the country is far from stable. Tension and protests need to be relieved. Going to the prison is just an attempt to fool everyone,” says Pavel Usov, head of the Warsaw Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting.
Philosopher Vladimir Matskevich says this meeting is an example of what awaits the country if Lukashenko remains in power:
“The dialogue scheme looks like this. Lukashenko – to the Minister of Internal Affairs: ‘Arrest for me this guy, this one and that one! Handcuff them and gag them. I want to conduct a dialogue with them’.”