Something rotten in the state…..

….of Belarus.  Earlier this year I completed my ambition to visit every European capital city.  Well every European capital city bar one because Belarus was never on the list of places to visit.  As long as the country stayed, as Condoleezza Rice (wiki) described it, as Europe’s last dictatorship (President Lukashenko, pictured) then I would not be visiting Minsk.  I had thought I might need to get my travelling shoes on again to complete the last trip.  This weekend there was a presidential election in Belarus.  The country had ben close to Russia but they had increasingly been falling out with problems over gas pipelines through the country to elsewhere in Europe and Belarus refusal to condemn Georgia for something Russia wanted them to condemn it for.  The EU, spotting this had offered Belarus a loan if it had free and fair elections and there had been campaigning by other politicians than Mr Lukashenko, opposition politicians had been allowed an hour each to promote themselves on TV and there had been a debate involving all the candidates, apart from Mr Lukashenko of course.

Well it looks like the country will not be getting its loan as the OSCE observers at the elections said the country has considerable way to go to meet its commitments.  Then today we saw reports (CoE) demonstrations resulted in hundreds being arrested including seven of the candidates.

Being aware of your friends and the consequences of counting them your friend is something I’ve thought important.  It is interesting to see that the Wikileaks Russian representative has met senior officials on the Belorussian government and has been accredited as a foreign observer of the elections.  The reason I would have thought the government of Belarus would have avoided being friends with I Shamir, the Wikileaks Russian representative, when it is reported here he is an anti-Semitic, holocaust denying, far-right Russian nationalist.

UPDATE: Further from Harry’s Place about Mr Shamir.  He downplays the demonstration and arrests and it appears the Belarus government is going to publish information showing links between the West and the opposition.  Do the meetings between Government oficials and Mr Shamir play any part in this government information?  Has wikileaks Belarus provided information to one of the most represeive regimes in the World?

Unfortunately I wasn’t an observer for the Belarussian elections.  I was for the ones in Ukraine in 2004 and thought at the time it was not quite the Orange followers good others bad way it was painted.  People at a polling station refered to the Orange gangsters.  It is interesting to read that Yulia Tymoshenko has ben charged with misusing state funds whilst Ukraine Prime Minister.  I don’t know if the prosecution is politically motivated but it has already led to a punch-up in the Ukrainian parliament.  I was very suspicious of her from the first time I saw the platted hair.

Send the Cavalry

A friend wrote to me saying they think this is the best Christmas record ever, certainly the talk about the snow makes it topical, so here it is:

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