A High-Stakes Standoff in Belarus
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Aleksandr Lukashenko came to office in Belarus in the 1990s on a nostalgic message, promising to undo moves toward a market economy and end the hardship the country had endured after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. As president, he acquired dictatorial powers, removing term limits, cracking down on opposition and stifling the press. In recent years, however, economic stagnation has bred growing discontent. And when Mr. Lukashenko claimed an implausible landslide victory in a presidential election last month, he found himself facing mass protests that have only grown as he has attempted to crush them. Today, we chart Mr. Lukashenko’s rise to power and examine his fight to hold on to it.  Guest: Ivan Nechepurenko, a reporter with the Moscow bureau of The New York Times.  For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily  Background reading: The protests in Belarus present the greatest challenge yet to Mr. Lukashenko’s hold on power. Formerly apolitical people have taken to the streets against him.Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition candidate who has galvanized the movement against Mr. Lukashenko, is a newcomer to politics who took up the role when more established figures were jailed or exiled. 
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