Beat Down In Belarus

It was a good day for Europe’s last dictator, not so much for democracy.

Belarus election ends in protests, police crackdown

Following a night of violence and mass arrests in Minsk, Belarus, the state-dominated media on Monday declared that Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian leader who’s often described as “Europe’s last dictator,” has been reelected to an unprecedented fourth term with a 79.7 percent majority of the votes. None of his eight opponents won more than 3 percent.

After state-conducted exit polls indicated the scope of Mr. Lukashenko’s triumph Sunday night, an estimated 20,000 opposition supporters attempted to rally on Minsk’s central Independence Square to protest what they allege to be systematic fraud in the electoral process – as they did under almost identical circumstances in previous presidential polls four years ago.

But this time, authorities reacted with a harshness unseen in the past. An attempt by some opposition supporters to storm the Central Electoral Commission headquarters failed to get past massed ranks of police. Special riot squads then charged into the crowd, using batons and stun grenades, arresting 600 and injuring dozens.

During the night, Belarus’s KGB security forces swept through Minsk, arresting six opposition candidates along with scores of their supporters in an operation that continued in full swing Monday. Two of the candidates, Nikolai Statkevich and Vladimir Neklyaev, claimed they were beaten by special police before being taken to prison. The arrested leaders could face jail terms of up to 15 years.

See also:
Alexander Lukashenko wins Belarus’ presidential election with 79.67% of the vote
U.S. Condemns Belarus Crackdowns, Rejects Election Results
Belarus President Lukashenko Clamps Down on Protests After Election Win
The Moscow Power Games Behind Belarus’ Election Crackdown
Belarus Leader Shrugs Off Accusations of Election Fraud, Violence
U.S. condemns Belarus violence, says poll in doubt
Belarus protests: Your views
Lukashenko, bogeyman for both West and Russia
Lukashenka uncovered
Belarus is a kleptocratic arms bazaar that the EU needs to tackle
Civil unrest in Minsk on 19 December ‘nothing to do with elections’

I’m not sure why countries like Belarus even bother to hold elections at all. It’s not like they’re fooling anyone into thinking the election is legitimate.

/our American democracy may not be perfect, but at least our losing electoral candidates don’t get thrown in prison

Worst Alibi Ever

I mean seriously, who doesn’t fish with automatic weapons and rocket launchers?

Somali Pirate Suspects Say They Were Fishing For Sharks

Trial began Tuesday for five suspected Somali pirates, aged between 25 and 45, on charges of attacking a vessel sailing under a Netherlands Antilles flag. The accused men say they were simply fishing for sharks and not responsible for the hijacking.

The trial, which is the first-ever European trial of suspected Somali pirates, surrounds the attacking of the Turkish freighter Samanyolu in January 2009.

Prosecutors said the men used rocket launchers and assault rifles to attack the vessel and the crew took refuge. Prosecutors’ account match up with what the vessel’s machinist said in a prepared statement.

The accused, who are facing jail terms of up to 12 years for the attack, told a Dutch court that they are innocent of the charges and were fishing for sharks in the Gulf of Aden, a stretch of sea off the coast of Somalia that has become rife with piracy.

“The intention was to fish,” defendant Farah Ahmed Yusuf, 25, told the Rotterdam district court, claiming that when their ship broke down they tried to get help from the passing Samanyolu.

See also:
‘Pirates’ claim they were just fishing for sharks… with rocket launchers
Dutch to hold first European Somali pirate trial
Somali pirates’ trial begins in the Netherlands
Dutch court scene for piracy trial
The Netherlands starts first trial of pirates in Europe
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
First European trial of Somali pirate suspects opens
Prosecutors demand 7-year sentences for piracy
First European Pirate Trial to Start
Dutch trial of five Somali pirates starts
Somalis deny piracy in landmark European trial
Suspected pirates on trial

These heavily armed “fisherman” are damn lucky they’re being tried in the Netherlands and only facing 12 years in prison. Some jurisdictions still deal with captured pirates the old fashioned way.

/Yemen court sentences six Somali pirates to death