President’s virus swagger fuels anger ahead of Belarus vote

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is facing massive opposition protests as he runs for a sixth term in Sunday’s election. Lukashenko’s cavalier attitude to the coronavirus pandemic and his refusal to introduce any restrictions to stem the outbreak have angered many in the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million. The 65-year-old former state farm director advised the Belarusians to “kill the virus with vodka,” go to the sauna and work in the fields to avoid infection. While Lukashenko has refused to impose a lockdown to stem the outbreak, the Belarusian economy has been badly bruised by the economic fallout from the global pandemic, fueling discontent with Lukashenko’s 26-year rule.