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How the people of Belarus will decide the fate of Alexander Lukashenko

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A Belarusian Court with a Jury, an International Tribunal or a Referendum — how will the people of Belarus decide on the future fate of Alexander Lukashenko? Article by Pavel Latushka in the column for the MOST


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"Justice" was fast.

An attempt to escape and arrest.

A hastily organized tribunal.

A two-hour trial on four articles, including "Genocide".

And the immediate verdict, no right of appeals.

Her last words were "Why? I was your mother."

His — couplets of "Internationale" and "I don’t deserve…" - were muffled by a burst of twenty-nine bullets.

The quarter-century era of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu’s dictatorship ends around 2:50 p.m. Bucharest time.

He said he didn’t deserve it. The people of Romania decided otherwise.

And what will the Belarusian people decide?

The Lukashenko era in our country is obviously coming to an end, too.

What will be its finale?

We do not know.

Too much trouble was caused by an autocrat who ruled Belarus for 26 years; a dictator who usurped it for two more.

Too many destinies were destroyed.

Still, Belarusians are a nation of calm and reasonable people — Europeans in the best sense of the word.

I hope and am truly convinced: we will all find the strength to carry out justice fairly and in accordance with the law — when the time comes. In three years. In ten. Or tomorrow.

How can it be done?

Referendum as an expression of the will of the people

Sometimes the Belarusians mention this option as, in their opinion, the fairest.

Let us note at once: it is illegal.

The question of the future fate of the dictator (even if it is the first and, we hope, the last dictator in the country's history) banally does not fall within the competence of the electoral system as a whole and of the Central electoral commission (CEC) in particular.

The principle of separation of powers, which is the basis of democracy, is violated: only the judicial power judges, while the CEC treats.

Let us note at once: it is illegitimate.

The question of the future fate of the dictator (even if it is the first and, we hope, the last dictator in the country's history) banally does not fall within the competence of the electoral system as a whole and the CEC in particular.

This violates the principle of separation of powers, which is the basis of democracy: only the judicial authorities judge, while the CEC is more a part of the executive branch. These are fundamentally different "branches" of the state system.

In addition, the referendum is legally complicated and requires more than one month of preparation. This is a high burden on the country during the transit period, which will not be easy anyway.

All this time it would be necessary to ensure the security of the last dictator of Belarus, as well as to properly formalize his stay in the isolation ward by law (which is extremely difficult, because there are no precedents of such referendums in the world, for the reasons mentioned above).

However, even imagining such an option in theory, it is worth noting the image costs of such a decision. Lukashenko does not equal Belarus - we cannot put the dictator above the national legislation, "fitting" the regulations to him. Even by way of exception and even for the sake of justice over him.

It is enough that Lukashenko himself "adjusted" the laws of Belarus for almost three decades.

Deferred Vengeance - International Tribunal

The building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague
The building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague
The first thing that comes to mind for most Belarusians when it comes to punishing Lukashenko for his crimes.

Is it achievable?

It is achievable. But the procedure is bureaucratically very complicated, so it will take a long time before we hear the verdict, if ever. Judging by the experience of tribunals for war criminals of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, who are responsible for mass genocide and ethnic purges, Lukashenko’s sentence can be pronounced in 15−20 years.

With all this in mind, the convening of a tribunal is still a realistic prospect.
Первое, что приходит в голову большинству беларусов, когда речь заходит о наказании Лукашенко за его преступления.

The Court under Universal Jurisdiction

The International Court of Justice in The Hague
The International Court of Justice in The Hague
The option makes it possible to delegate justice over Lukashenko to a democratic country with a developed judicial and legal system and experience in handling cases of crimes against humanity. As an option, Great Britain.

The legal basis for such a process will be the mechanisms of universal jurisdiction, in the competence of which such crimes (and others especially grave and massive) are just that.

Such acts have no statute of limitations. The suspect can be detained almost anywhere in the world at the request of Interpol or Europol and put on trial in any of the states, the legal system of which allows organizing the investigation and justice through the mechanisms of universal jurisdiction.

This is much faster than a tribunal verdict, but also quite long and bureaucratically complicated, and there is always a risk of accusations against the country organizing the procedure — of its political interest because we have a situation where one state is judging the formal head of another, even if illegitimate.

However, even before the trial itself is organized, the mechanisms of universal jurisdiction make it possible to include the alleged offender in the official list of suspects with the blocking of accounts and to declare him internationally wanted. And this is a big plus.

The Court in Belarus

This, perhaps, is the likely outcome of Lukashenko's fate - the trial of the people, which the dictator has made his hostage.

How the trial will proceed depends largely on how the events of the Belarusan revolution develop, which will put an end to the dictator's rule.

We will consider the legal scenario - as far as it is possible to arrange it in the transit period, starting from the first days.

Here is an approximate algorithm.

- Arrest of Alexander Lukashenko and closure of the borders of Belarus. Transferring law enforcers to a special service mode. Detention of regime criminals and bringing charges.

- Organization of parliamentary elections - democratic ones for the first time.

- The formation of a new Supreme Court through a re-elected parliament. Simultaneously, a lustration commission should be created not as a punitive body but as an instrument for identifying competent and safe officials for the new democratic institutions.

- A nationwide dialogue. Debates and a broad public discussion of the future of Belarus, Lukashenko, and the crimes of the Belarusian regime in all information resources of the country. External openness and free accreditation of the foreign press at all stages of the transition period and national dialogue.

- Organization of the judicial process. One of its possible models - the trial by jury - for wider civil representation and involvement in the process of Belarusians who are not engaged by the parliament or the Supreme Court.

Как будет проходить судебный процесс, зависит во многом от того, как будут развиваться события беларуской революции, которая поставит крест на правлении диктатора.
Мы рассмотрим правовой сценарий — насколько его возможно организовать в транзитный период, начиная с первых дней.

Вот примерный алгоритм.

  • Arrest of Alexander Lukashenko and closure of the borders of Belarus. Transferring law enforcers to a special service mode. Detention of regime criminals and bringing charges.

  • Organization of parliamentary elections — democratic ones for the first time.

  • The formation of a new Supreme Court through a re-elected parliament. Simultaneously, a lustration commission should be created not as a punitive body but as an instrument for identifying competent and safe officials for the new democratic institutions.

  • A nationwide dialogue. Debates and a broad public discussion of the future of Belarus, Lukashenko, and the crimes of the Belarusian regime in all information resources of the country. External openness and free accreditation of the foreign press at all stages of the transition period and national dialogue.

  • Organization of the judicial process. One of its possible models — the trial by jury — for wider civil representation and involvement in the process of Belarusians who are not engaged by the parliament or the Supreme Court.
At the same time, a hypothetical jury trial of an ex-president accused of both international crimes and crimes against his own people is an unprecedented measure and should be seriously discussed by members of Parliament and lawyers.

Regardless of the form in which the process is organized, the legal framework will most likely be the Criminal Code of Belarus in its current version.

On its basis, the Supreme Court (with the participation of the jury or otherwise) should decide on the responsibility of Lukashenko for the crimes committed during his presidency and during his unlawful retention of power.

If the verdict is indeed rendered according to the laws in force under the autocrat, the likely sentence would be life imprisonment, on the understanding that the transitional government would impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty from the first days of the transition period.

Either way, one conclusion begs to be drawn. The choice of how to objectively assess the deeds and decisions of the first and last dictator of independent Belarus, and their consequences; what fair responsibility a politician will bear for them, must belong to the law and the people - and only them.

Moreover, the main condition should be transparency and the absence of doubts about the incorruptibility of the participants in the process. Any violation will give reason to claim reprisal against the dictator and encourage his supporters to revanchism.

Lukashenko's trial is not revenge or even the closure of a "political gestalt. It is a complex civic consensus, a nationwide summing up of the most tragic era in modern Belarusian history.

It is the first and probably the most important exam that the society of the country that is preparing to become a democracy - in the best sense of the word - should pass with dignity. To unite the Belarusans, not to divide them.
Please consider this text as an invitation to discussion and an open discussion on one of the important issues of the transit period in the new Belarus.

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