Tag Archives: Lukashenko

Europarl: Belarus sanctions in view

Strasbourg 26.10.2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to MEPs about the continuing crackdown on dissenting voices in Belarus and called on the EU to take firm action against the regime.

“The Belarusian regime has shown itself willing to seize individuals from international flights, misuse international agencies to punish dissent, to weaponise migrants in a way deliberately designed to undermine the stability and security of Europe,” said Tsikhanouskaya during her speech in the Parliament on 24 November.

The Belarusian opposition leader called on the EU to help address the ongoing crisis with migrants on the EU-Belarus borders: “Both Belarussians and migrants are now hostages of the regime and these two problems cannot be solved separately.”

She said the EU should coordinate sanctions against the regime with the US and the UK to make the sanctions “effective and not only symbolic”.

Ahead of Tsikhanouskaya’s speech, Parliament President David Sassoli condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called on other institutions to defend the respect of fundamental rights in the country.

“Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, to silence civil society’s voice, to use repression as a daily weapon,” said Sassoli. “The regime didn’t hesitate to use men, women and children who needed protection, putting their lives in danger without any respect for fundamental human rights, just to destabilise the EU.”

Tsikhanouskaya’s address comes amid a continuing geopolitical crisis on the EU-Belarus border. The Belarusian regime has been funnelling migrants primarily from the Middle East to the country’s border with the EU, and in particular Poland. In response, the EU agreed to expand the bloc’s existing sanctions on Belarus to target, among others, airlines and officials involved in bringing migrants to the border areas.

Migrants storm Polish border

Brussels 11.11.2011 Polish law enforcement officers thwarted an attempt to storm the border by a large group of migrants late on Wednesday evening, November 10, Spokeswoman for the Polish border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska reported on Thursday.

“The incident occurred late last night. The situation is very complicated. It constantly comes to attempts to storm the border. 150 violent migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Bialowieza this time. They threw branches and stones at our officers, attempted to break the fence with these branches,” she said.

“This attempt was prevented. Later some of these people were taken to the forest by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. The rest made bonfires,” Szczepanska informed. According to her, the border guards have been monitoring the development of the situation and expect similar attempts in the coming days. “We don’t rule this out. We are ready and will not allow any illegal border crossing,” she stated.

Polish border guards thwarted about 33,000 attempts to illegally cross the border in the past year. Most of those trying to enter Poland are Iraqi nationals who want to reach Germany.

EU: Belarus visa suspension

Brussels 09.11.2021 “The Council today adopted a decision partially suspending the application of the EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement. This decision is a response to the ongoing hybrid attack launched by the Belarusian regime.

“The suspension covers the provisions that waive requirements for documentary evidence, regulate the issuing of multiple entry visas and reduce visa application fees as they apply to officials of the Belarus regime. This decision will not affect ordinary citizens of Belarus, who will continue to enjoy the same benefits under the visa facilitation agreement as they do currently.

“The decision will now be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force on the second day following publication. Under the visa facilitation agreement the decision on suspension is to be notified to the other party no later than 48 hours before its entry into force.

The EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 July 2020, in parallel with the EU-Belarus readmission agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate the issuance of short stay visas and thereby contribute to enhancing people-to-people contacts and sharing values and democratic principles.

Following the political upheaval in Belarus and the restrictive measures adopted by the EU, in June 2021 Belarus began to organise flights and internal travel to facilitate the transit of migrants towards the EU, first to Lithuania and then to Latvia and Poland. Belarus also announced on 28 June 2021 that it would suspend the readmission agreement with the EU.

Hundreds of migrants are camped in frigid weather behind a razor-wire fence on the Poland-Belarus border. Poland has massed thousands of troops to keep them out, and prevented journalists, aid organizations and EU officials from traveling to the area.

Belarus activist suspicious death

Brussels 03.08.2021 Belarusian anti-government activist was found dead in a park near in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday, August 3, and according to the police they had begun an investigation into whether it was a suicide or a murder.

The activist, Vitaly Shishov, went missing a day before after going out for a morning jog, said his colleagues, who accused the Belarusian authorities of assassinating him. On Tuesday, the Kyiv police said that he had been found hanged in the park and that their investigation included the possibility that the death was a “murder masked as a suicide.”

“The full picture of events will be confirmed after the questioning of witnesses, the analysis of video recordings” and other investigative operation, the police said.

Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Belarus’s authoritarian leader since 1994, has jailed thousands after large-scale protests over his rule last year. Now, events in recent weeks have indicated that he is also escalating his campaign against the growing number of Belarus activists, living in exile abroad.

Shishov’s acquaintances told the Viasna human rights center that he had previously noticed that he was being watched while jogging. Also, he and his girlfriend were approached by suspicious people who tried to start a conversation.

“Belarusian House in Ukraine” is a non-profit public organization that provides assistance to Belarusian citizens who fled to Ukraine.

AMENDMENT:

Lukashenko regime self-isolates

“The Belarusian authorities ordered Head of Mission at the Embassy of Lithuania in Minsk and the Consul General in Hrodna to leave the country by 11 July, drastically limiting Vilnius’ diplomatic presence in the country” reads the statement by the spokesperson on limiting the diplomatic presence of Lithuania. (Image:Viktar Babaryka)

“With this, the Lukashenko regime is closing further diplomatic channels of communication. By also reducing the consular staff of EU member states’ diplomatic missions, the regime limits the opportunities for the Belarusians to travel to the EU. Already last October, at the request of the regime, the Lithuanian and Polish Ambassadors left the country, and in May this year the entire staff of Latvia’s embassy in Minsk was ordered to leave. Most recently, the Belarusian authorities asked the Head of the EU Delegation in Minsk to return to Brussels for consultations.

“By these actions, the regime further isolates itself. Such decisions are also detrimental to Belarus and its population. Keeping diplomatic channels of communication open in time of difficulties is crucial. The EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to allow full presence of the EU’s and it Member States’ diplomatic missions to allow diplomacy to work”.

EU: Belarus human rights violations

Brussels 07.06.2021 “Viktar Babaryka was sentenced to 14 years in prison today. He had been held in detention since 18 June 2020, for the sole reason to have tried to exercise his political right to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections in August 2020” reads the statement by the spokesperson on sentencing Viktar Babaryka and other political trials.

“This sentence is one of at least 125 unfair and arbitrary recent verdicts by Belarusian courts in politically motivated trials, often held behind closed doors and without due process of law.

“Today, Belarus has over 530 political prisoners, hundreds of documented instances of torture, and continued repression against all segments of society to silence all dissent and ill treatment in detention centres. The Lukashenko regime clearly violates international human rights that it has committed to uphold. This has been most recently confirmed also by the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus.

“The EU demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Babaryka as well as of all political prisoners, detained journalists and people who are behind bars for exercising their fundamental rights. The regime must halt repression and injustice and hold perpetrators to account.

“The EU will continue its efforts to push for accountability for the brutal repression by the Belarusian authorities. The EU also continues to call for a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE, leading to new free and fair elections.

“Serious human rights violations come at a price. Since last October, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures in response to the continued intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. In line with its gradual approach, the EU stands ready to consider further measures”.

Belarus suspends Eastern Partnership

Brussels 28.06.2021 “Belarus has taken another step backwards today by suspending its participation in the Eastern Partnership” the EU Council President Charles Michel (pictured) wrote on his Twitter micro blog page.
“This will escalate tensions further and have a clear negative impact on the people of Belarus by depriving them of opportunities provided by our cooperation” he added.

The head of the European Union’s Delegation to Belarus Dirk Schuebel was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. The diplomats have informed him about the steps Belarus has been “forced to take” in response to the “unprecedented restrictive measures” imposed on the country by the EU.

Belarus has suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative of the European Union, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on its website on 28 June.

Canada-EU-UK-US statement on Belarus

Brussels 21.06.2021 “Today, we have taken coordinated sanctions action in response to the 23 May forced landing of a commercial Ryanair flight between two EU member states and the politically motivated arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega, as well as to the continuing attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are committed to support the long-suppressed democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus and we stand together to impose costs on the regime for its blatant disregard of international commitments” reads the Joint Statement by Canada, the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States on Belarus. (Image: archive, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya).

“We are united in calling for the regime to end its repressive practices against its own people. We are disappointed the regime has opted to walk away from its human rights obligations, adherence to democratic principles, and engagement with the international community.

“We are further united in our call for the Lukashenko regime to cooperate fully with international investigations into the events of 23 May; immediately release all political prisoners; implement all the recommendations of the independent expert mission under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism; and, enter into a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue between the authorities and representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE”.

EU towards Belarus targeted sanctions

Brussels 09.06.2021 “…It is certainly the right moment to talk about Belarus. Belarus is again at the very top of the international agenda for the events that everybody knows and the continued repression by Lukashenko’s regime” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament.

“This repression has been strongly condemned, as much as the massive human rights violations, which continue unabated since the past elections in August 2020, almost one year ago.

“The recent events are related with the hijacking of a European Union airplane flying between two European Union capitals, and forcing it to land in Minsk, with the intervention of a fighter jet, which is an act that overstepped many red lines. Not only it has jeopardised the security of over 100 passengers, but it has also challenged international rules relating with air transportation. The subsequent arrest of a young Belarusian journalist [Raman Pratasevich] as well as his partner [Sofia Sapega] is an abhorrent act. Their forced confessions on state television is another example of the flagrant violations of basic human rights that Lukashenko’s regime commit. It was certainly awful to watch these images of these people detained, crying and recognising in front of the state television like he has been committing I do not know how many crimes against Belarus. Believe me, it was a shameful image.

“We had to respond decisively against these images, against these facts, and already the day after the hijacking of the Ryanair flight, the European Council met, brought up this issue on the agenda and took decisions.

“The European Council called for additional sanctions, and for the first time they decided to include targeted economic sanctions. Until now all our sanctions [vis-a-vis Belarus] are usually taken on a personal basis, affecting individuals and entities, but not the whole economy of the country. This time the Council requested to take targeted economic sanctions.

“The Council also requested that all European Union-based air carriers avoid overflights of Belarus.

“It called also for adopting the necessary measures to ban overflight of the European Union airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to European Union airports of flights operated by such airlines. And I can tell you that these measures have already been adopted last week and I will give you some details about it.

“Listings of individuals and companies, including those involved in the Ryanair incident, are well on track for adoption and they will be adopted by written procedure in the following days.

“As mandated by the European Council, and together with the Commission, we have started [preparing] targeted economic sanctions as the Council requested. They will be adopted at the next Foreign Affairs Council, I hope that the technical work will be finished and it will be affecting critical sectors of the Belarusian economy. But the final decision belongs to the Member States; I hope they will be united on that.

“In the meantime, we will continue to address the human rights violations in international fora. Let us not forget that there are now, we calculate, almost 450 political prisoners in Belarus. This group includes journalists arrested for simply doing their jobs – informing, students, representatives of civil society and ordinary citizens who protested against their freedoms and rights being taken away by the regime.

“We have been contributing to the establishment of mechanism to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations responsible and we will continue to support the victims and look for the accountability of perpetrators.

“We have published a plan for a €3 billion economic and investment package in support of a democratic Belarus, sending a message of hope and support to the people of Belarus, showing the prospects for a more prosperous country once they come back to a democratic system. This should be a strong incentive for economic development, should the country change. This €3 billion economic plan will support it. This is a way of proving that we stand with the Belarusian people, and we will continue doing so in the future…”

Lisbon: Informal meeting of EU top diplomats

Brussels 27.05.2011 “We are going to discuss about Belarus today, for sure. It is only two days after the [EU] leaders took important decisions on Belarus and we are going to discuss how to implement the decision of going to economic and sectorial sanctions to Belarus. This is going to be an important issue on our meeting.
(Image above: Lisbon, Portugal)

But we are going to talk also about the European Union-Africa Partnership, about the Indo-Pacific Strategy and about the conflicts in our Eastern Neighbourhood, which are affecting our security.

So we have a lot of issues on the table.

We will start by Belarus, the hijacking of the plane and the detention of two passengers is something that is completely unacceptable. And we will start discussing the implementation of the sectorial and economic sanctions.

That is all I can tell you. Keep in mind: Indo-Pacific, European Union-Africa partnership, Belarus and the conflicts in our Eastern Partnership [region].

Also, during the lunch, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Jordan [Ayman Safadi] will join us and we will take stock of the situation in the Middle East, especially the situation of the conflict between Israel and Palestine after the ceasefire”.

EU Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich) hold an informal meeting, on 27 May 2021, in Lisbon. The meeting is chaired by Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

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