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Podcast: A Belarusian opposition leader’s fight for democracy


Listen: Is there a path to democracy for Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus? Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discusses her hopes and fears for the country with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World Podcast. President Alexander Lukashenko has maintained a tight grip on power in Belarus for the last 26 years and rigged the results of his last election which led to widespread protest and unrest in his country, though few consequences globally. But will he now be held accountable after diverting a flight between two European capitals to arrest a dissident journalist? And just how close are he and Vladimir Putin?

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Life under dictatorship in Belarus

What should you put in your bag before leaving home in Belarus nowadays if you openly criticize the government? Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya recommends packing an extra pair of pants and socks in case you get kidnapped or thrown in jail because under strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, you "feel that you don't have rights at all."

Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of an interview on the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which begins airing on US public television Friday, June 11. Check local listings.

EU likely to declare Belarus airspace unsafe, wider response to follow

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, discusses Belarus' diversion of a Ryanair flight and the European Union's response:

What is really happening with Belarus?

Well, what Lukashenko did yesterday was completely unacceptable. It was air piracy, state sponsored air piracy. And if this is allowed to stand, then no one can fly in the world. If dictators all over the world can pick aircraft out of the sky with a fighter or two in order to arrest people that they dislike, then the entire regime of commercial air transport in the world is gone.

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Flight diversion in Belarus is a criminal act

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer, here. Happy Monday to you. And yeah, I'm not in New York. I'm in Nantucket for a few days, working as usual, but I'm willing, I'm trying will summer into being. And the shirt, if nothing else, is annoying and distracting people and making me feel more summery.

But not so summery in Belarus, my goodness. The Belarusian president, illegitimate ostensibly reelected through fake elections, President Alexander Lukashenko. You remember all of the demonstrations against him, the support for the opposition movement in Europe and the United States. Not so much in Russia and President Putin and kind of petered out and police repression and he gets to still run the country, Mr. Lukashenko. And now, has engaged in what European leaders are calling state terrorism. Certainly, a hijacking, a level of piracy, with a Ryanair plane, that's an Ireland flagged carrier, going from Athens to Vilnius, two NATO allies, two European union members, through Belarusian airspace. And the Belarusians force the plane down to Minsk because a passenger on the plane is a Belarusian opposition journalist, and they have wanted him in jail. He's been a thorn for the Belarusian government and the president.

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