Belarus opposition urges European Union to move on sanctions

Daniel Fowler
September 23, 2020

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya attends a news conference, as she is in Brussels to meet European Union foreign ministers and EU lawmakers, in Brussels, on September 21, 2020.

"Canada will continue to work toward a peaceful and inclusive resolution to this crisis while holding Belarus to its OSCE commitments to human rights and democracy", Champagne said.

The former Soviet republic has been convulsed by unprecedented demonstrations and a brutal crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko since he was returned to power in a disputed August 9 election. This is a reference to when police told Bahinskaya that she was taking part in an unauthorised protest and she snapped back, "I'm taking a walk".

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, one of the strongest advocates for Belarus sanctions, said he hoped other EU countries "will not keep the European Union in limbo and will not take (it) hostage".

"We are really impressed by the courage and perseverance of the Russian people, especially Belarusian women who show a real sense of leadership".

"We do not accept the results of this fraudulent presidential election in Belarus and call for free and fair elections", Champagne said on August 17.

Expect economic sanctions including asset freezes, travel restrictions and visa bans for the targeted officials, though similar sanctions levied against Belarus in 2004 had little effect and were lifted in 2011.

"We have to conclude that nothing has improved in the last weeks".

"The powers, means and technologies at the disposal of the internal affairs bodies make it possible to identify and prosecute the vast majority of those guilty of leaking personal data on the Internet", said Olga Chemodanova, a spokeswoman for the Belarusian Minister of Internal Affairs.

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She did this via a video statement from Lithuania, where she fled after the election.

Ambrazevich and his counterparts from Russia, Venezuela and China also voiced multiple objections to statements by the United Nations deputy rights chief Nada Al-Nashif and Anais Marin, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in Belarus, saying they had no place in the debate.

"What we're seeing now is a clear deterioration of the situation - we have more repression, more people arrested, more forced into exile", the official said.

Lukashenko has dismissed opposition calls for his resignation and sought help from Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who has promised law enforcement backup if needed and a $1.5 billion loan.

His security forces have meanwhile detained thousands of protesters, many of whom have accused police of beatings and torture.

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya travelled to Brussels to try to convince the European Union to follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on some 40 Belarusian officials over the disputed August 9 vote.

Wendy Morton, the U.K.'s junior foreign minister, also called on foreign powers to enact sanctions against Belarusian authorities responsible for "fraudulent elections", Reuters reported.

Borrell said that the EU's ability to forge a common foreign policy among 27 countries is on the line over the sanctions.

Cyprus has said it can only agree to the Belarusian sanctions when the European Union also imposes sanctions on its neighbour, Turkey, in a separate row that has raised tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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