From the Document: "Since August 2020, authorities in Belarus have engaged in a wide-ranging political, media, and civil society crackdown that human rights monitors have called 'unprecedented' and 'catastrophic.' About 35,000 Belarusians reportedly have been detained or imprisoned; about 675 are considered political prisoners. Several have been killed or have died under suspicious circumstances. In addition to persecuting opposition members and protest participants, authorities have intensified repression against independent media and civil society organizations (including U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), journalists, and human rights defenders. The United States, the European Union (EU), and others have called for an end to the crackdown and for the government to hold free and fair presidential elections. The crackdown in Belarus emerged in response to the rise of a mass opposition movement, on a scale unseen since Belarus became independent in 1991 (Belarus previously was part of the Soviet Union). The movement arose out of protests against allegedly widespread electoral fraud in the wake of an August 2020 presidential election, during which opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya mounted an unexpectedly strong campaign against Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for more than 27 years."
CRS In Focus, IF10814
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/