With the opposition calling for protests and the government warning against them the atmosphere in Belarus ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election is one of unprecedented tension.
Opposition leaders believe the vote will be rigged to allow President Alexander Lukashenko to remain in officer. They have called for peaceful demonstrations. But Lukashenko, who is the favourite to win, says protests that would be seen as an attempt to usurp power will not be tolerated.
Last night he issued his strongest statement yet saying anyone who attempted a coup would have their ‘necks wrung like a duck’. The European Union shares fears that the ballot in the former Soviet republic will not be fair and has said any violence against peaceful protests will provoke what it called a “strong international reaction”.
At their last, unauthorised, campaign rally opposition leaders again called for people to assemble in the centre of the capital after polling closes. Research indicates the opposition has strong support in Minsk but that Lukashenko remains popular in the provinces.