Putin holds key to Belarus crisis as Lukashenko heads to Moscow

With a stalemate in Minsk, the next chapter of Belarusian history may be written in the Kremlin

Criminal charges, kidnappings, bags over the head and death threats: the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has deployed all the resources of his repressive apparatus this week in an attempt to suffocate the growing protest movement against his continued rule as he prepares for a crucial meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Lukashenko has made it crystal clear he has no intention of stepping down, repeating an earlier promise that he would rather die than relinquish power after 26 years in charge. “Power is not given to be taken, thrown and given away,” he said this week.

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