A Despot Is On The Loose In Belarus...And He's Cozying Up To Moscow

`My fists are itchy," said 34-year-old Mikhail Shaumenko, one of 10,000 protesters agitating for Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's impeachment at an opposition rally in Minsk on Oct. 19. He was a good deal more belligerent than most of his compatriots: Snipers atop the National Opera and 20,000 troops in riot gear kept the crowd in check and most of the populace at home. Lukashenko, meanwhile, was everywhere. All TV channels broadcast his speech before an ad hoc, 6,000-strong Congress of Belarussian Peoples, which rubber-stamped a constitutional referendum to be held on Nov. 24 that would grant him near dictatorial powers.

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