But the democratic “color revolutions” of the early 2000s – in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere – united autocrats around the sovereignty defense. These leaders, from Iran to Venezuela, feared the advice, funds, and pressure from foreign supporters of budding democracy movements that could shake things up at home.
Thus it is that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev – the supposed modernizer of Russia – can defend the clearly fraudulent election on Dec. 19 of Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusan president, known as Europe’s last dictator, is disdained by Russian leaders. But not for his strong grip on power.
Despite the arrest and beating of opposition demonstrators and their leaders in the Belarusan capital of Minsk, Mr. Medvedev has declared the elections to be the “internal affair” of Belarus.
And yet, for a country that itself has sought closer ties to the West, and is in a “partnership” with the European Union, what happens in Belarus is hardly of disinterest in other capitals.
Belarus was offered an EU aid package of $3.6 billion if Mr. Lukashenko delivered free and fair elections. He didn’t, and the offer should be rescinded – if it hasn’t been already.
The circumstances – and consequences – are even more serious in Ivory Coast in Western Africa. That country, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, suffered a civil war in 2002-03, and the presidential run-off elections last month were part of an arduous negotiated process.