Saturday, December 25, 2010

Concerns for a friend.

The situation in Belarus has me concerned for the safety of a friend, Jaroslav Romanchuk. Belarus is run by the iron-fisted dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, a throwback to Soviet-style repression.

Lukashenko rigged the election with the typical absurd election results that accompany such attempts, claiming that he won 80% of the votes. Thousands of demonstrators thought otherwise and Lukashenko had them bludgeoned and imprisoned.

I have only followed events in Belarus off and on and while I was aware of the recent rigged election the US media outlets didn't give a huge amount of information. Apparently I had missed that Lukashenko was running against a few candidates, including Jaroslav. I knew Jarsolav was a leader of one of the United Civil Party there, but I hadn't paid that much attention to the race, so I was unaware of his presidential run.

Apparently hundreds of opposition leaders have been arrested and some sites are now reporting that Jaroslav is hiding out in fear of his personal safety. During the campaign a car, driven by a police office smashed into a car that Jaroslav was riding in.

I last saw Jaroslav in Los Angeles about two years ago and before that we spent a few days together as speakers at a conference together in Germany. Now I'm unsure as to what is going on and how safe he is. I've dropped him an email today, but if things are as dire as the media reports I have to wonder if he will receive them.

Tonight my thoughts are with Jaroslav.

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