A non-profit media organization has named Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko as 2021 ‘Person of the Year’ for his repression and violent actions against critics and civilians in Belarus. In an announcement on Monday 27 December, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said the six-judge panel had no trouble selecting Lukashenko from a pool of 1,167 nominees.
Lukashenko’s ‘oppressive regime’ runs in Belarus
According to reports, critics and their associates in Belarus are arrested on false charges and convicted and sentenced. Among these people is Sirhei Sikhanowski, husband of opposition leader Svyatlana Sichanowskaya. Despite this, Lukashenko’s government continues to dismiss the allegations of abuse. On December 22, a Belarus court sentenced four anti-government protesters to 18 to 20 years in prison on charges of terrorism and arms smuggling.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was in the race
Critics had said that this action against him was the result of raising his voice against Lukashenko. There were many more names in the race for OCCRP’s ‘Person of the Year’ this year. For example, Syrian President Bashar Hafiz al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
Lukashenko’s name has been included in the organization’s long list of ‘Person of the Year’. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.