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Belarus's Missed Opportunity

Strong words from Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis, who said in a press release today that Belarus's "President Lukashenka never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

"There was hope that the recent parliamentary elections would be a turning point in the self-imposed isolation of Belarus from the rest of Europe. Unfortunately, it has not happened. "

He's referring of course to Belarus's latest elections -- elections which could have been an opportunity for at least a little love between Belarus and the West -- which the OSCE said "despite some minor improvements, overall fell short of OSCE commitments."

According to our Belarus Service, the state media has portrayed the elections as a triumph of democracy, although Lukashenka has still not reacted to the OSCE's findings.

Belarus Service Director Alexander Lukashuk said that Lukashenka's reaction will likely define the political climate for the next two years -- anti-Western, more opposition crackdowns, with perhaps a little bit of dialogue. There's more analysis from Lukashuk in a video briefing.

-- Luke Allnutt

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