Lukashenka is used to criticism from the United States and European Union. What makes the new attacks different is that many of them now come from Eastern Europe and former republics of the Soviet Union. On 17 May, Slovakia added its voice to the swelling chorus of condemnation. The detention of yet another prominent opposition leader this week was, it said, further evidence of political motivated pressure on the opposition and media in Belarus.
Poland, which borders Belarus, has become one of Lukashenka's most outspoken critics. Yesterday it expelled a Belarusian diplomat in retaliation for the expulsion of the first secretary of the Polish Embassy in Minsk one day before. Earlier, at the summit of the Council of Europe, Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski said that "widespread violations of elementary principles of democracy and human rights in Belarus" were not acceptable. His foreign minister, Adam Rotfeld, made much the same point.
"In Belarus, the internal system has to change," Rotfeld said. "It is the last example of the sort of museum piece that the Council of Europe does not accept."
Lukashenka might be feeling the heat, but isolation is a condition to which he has grown accustomed. He makes no secret of his contempt for international as well as domestic opinion.
His opponents, both at home and abroad, will be encouraged by the collapse of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in the elections in Ukraine in late 2004.
But Lukashenka is a tougher proposition altogether. He enjoys a solid nucleus of support in Belarus and he has repeatedly demonstrated his readiness to use force when threatened.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.