On February 28, 2011, the Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Maria Paula Survilla, and Associate Executive Director, Amb. David Swartz, gave a presentation entitled “Elections in Belarus” to staff and students of the Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies (CREES) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
They were accompanied and assisted by Dr. Stephen Woodburn, Professor of Russian History at Southwestern College and member of the Center’s Advisory Board.
In their lecture, Dr. Survilla and Amb. Swartz analyzed developments and trends in post-Soviet Belarus’ history, devoting particular attention to the ascendancy of then-President and now citizen Lukashenka and his non-democratic, authoritarian regime.
They focused on the run-up to and holding of the latest presidential election, held December 19, 2010, stressing both its flawed character and the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrators who had assembled to protest the regime-proclaimed outcome.
The lecturers concluded with an expose of possible courses of action by the international community in response to what they assessed as the most serious political crisis in Belarus’ post-Soviet history.
Inter alia, they noted that the U.S. and most European governments, having declared the election fatally flawed and thus the self-proclaimed outcome illegitimate, have a wide range of options available, including fuller utilization of the NGO community in pursuing remedial initiatives.
The formal presentation was followed by a lively question-and-answer period. The entire event was videotaped by the CREES staff for subsequent classroom and seminar use.