On 19 March 2006, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko won his third term in office. The citizens of Belarus, however, did not meet the announcement of Lukashenko’s 82.6% majority win with cheers. Rather, immediately after the Sunday election, oppositional forces organized by presidential candidates Alaksandar Kozulin and Alaksandar Milinkievič claimed that the Belarusian government had rigged the vote. Citizens came to a mass rally in October Square in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
On 17 September 2000, the Ukrainian government under President Leonid Kuchma kidnapped a journalist, Georgiy Gongadze. Gongadze was known for speaking out openly against the government, using his popular radio show and website to expose the widespread corruption in Kuchma’s cabinet. His decapitated body was found two weeks later. In November, Socialist Party leader Oleksander Moroz released recordings of conversations between members of Kuchma’s party planning the execution.
On February 14, 2005, a massive car-bomb explosion rocked Beirut, Lebanon, which killed twenty-two people, including former prime minister and leader of the opposition parties Rafiq Hariri. Suspicions were high that Syria, which had occupied Lebanon with troops and intelligence agents for three decades, was behind the attack. Parliamentary elections were approaching and the anti-Syria opposition was widely expected to win. Rafiq Hariri was a charismatic billionaire businessman who had become the most popular opposition politician in Lebanon.
The Rose Revolution in Georgia sought to overthrow President Eduard Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze was elected as president in 1995. A hold-over from the communist period, Shevardnadze was often seen as a puppet for the Soviet Union. In 2003, his actions would lead to the downfall of his regime and the institution of free elections in Georgia.
During his first seven years as president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic led the country into several wars with Croatia and Bosnia and isolated it internationally. While he spent money on the country’s secret police and military, unemployment reached as high as 50 percent before 1996. Citizens led several anti-war and pro-democracy campaigns in the early ‘90s, but failed due to lack of outside support. Opposition groups continued both violent and non-violent struggles against the regime, but neither was having any success.