December 24, 2011:
In Belarus, Russia's western neighbor, it was recently revealed that the former commander of the Belarusian air and missile defense forces (Igor Azarenok) had been arrested a year ago and recently convicted, in a secret trial, of corruption. He was found guilty of taking a $30,000 bribe from a Russian arms manufacturer. Azarenok was sentenced to nine years in prison. The Russian who bribed him was also prosecuted and sentenced to six years. What was unusual about this was that such corruption is rampant in Belarus and has been for some time. Apparently Azarenok freelanced and did not pass on any of the money to his superiors. That is a serious offense in Belarus, so is dealing with a foreign government without permission. Azarenok's arrest and trial were revealed to make the most corrupt man in Belarus, president-for-life Lukashenko, look good. This apparently didn't work and most Belarusians still consider Lukashenko a corrupt tyrant who once preached clean government but soon went over to the Dark Side.
Lukashenko doesn't confine his corrupt dealings to Belarus. Five years ago the U.S. accused the government of Belarus of running a major illegal arms exporting operation. The weapons sales, mainly to Iran and African countries and warlords in general, was bringing in over two billion dollars a year, with most of the profits going to senior government officials, particularly president Lukashenko.
Lukashenko has been in charge since 1994, when he consolidated power in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the creation of Belarus. Lukashenko is a Soviet era official, who now runs Belarus like the Soviet Union still existed. Belarus is a police state, where elections and everything else, are manipulated to keep Lukashenko and his cronies in power. It's a tricky business, but so far Lukashenko has kept the security forces up to snuff and on his side. He also bribes or bullies key officials to keep the country running. Lukashenko has maintained good relations with Russia, getting him cheap fuel supplies and other aid. Lukashenko initially won clean elections as a reformer and clean-government candidate. But he slowly went bad and has gotten worse over time.