Belarusian opposition leaders urge west to tighten sanctions

Western leaders need to tighten sanctions on Belarus to restore democracy and put pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to end the exacerbation of repression Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya He told the Financial Times prior to his visit to the UK.

The visit comes as Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya Asked for a shelter At the Japanese Olympics, after she said she tried to fly her board home against her will after she criticized her coach on social media.

Tsikhanouskaya said what happened to Olympic runners was part of a broader crackdown on Belarusian athletes. After Belarusian athletes accused him of political discrimination and imprisonment, Olympic officials banned Lukashenko from participating in the Tokyo Olympics and frozen payments to the national Olympic Commission.

“Since August, dozens of athletes have been imprisoned, fired and forced to flee the country,” she said, adding that any criticism was seen as an attack on the government. “Athletes cannot rest assured whether in Belarus or abroad.”

Tsikhanouskaya wants to remove the sanctions exemption during his trip to London on Tuesday with the help of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This follows a 15-day tour in the United States where she met President Joe Biden.

“We’re going to the UK to get attention … to close the loophole in European sanctions,” she said. Tsikhanouskaya said gradual pressure would only lead to a more oppressive path by the “longer, more casualty” administration.

Downing Street declined to comment.

In Belarus, about 35,000 people have been arrested since the poll in August 2020, including Sergei Tikhanovsky, husband of Tsikhanouskaya. Chihanovsky was detained before the election and urged him to run for president on behalf of Chihanoskaya.

Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Belarusian activist Vitaly Sishov, the head of the Belarusian family based in Kiev, a political refugee support group, was found hanged in the park.

On Ukrainian television, an acquaintance named Yuri, a fellow Belarusian refugee, denied suicide, pointing out that Sishov’s nose was broken.

“this is [Belarus] KGB. .. .. I knew they were looking for us, “Yuri said.

Western nations have threatened to increase pressure on Belarus, but so far they have only taken gradual steps. In a recent move, the UK, EU, US and Canada in June impose asset freezes and travel bans on some Belarusians related to the administration as punishment for forced landing of Ryanair planes in May. did. Belarusian officials directed the plane to Minsk, claiming there was a security threat to arrest the dissidents and his girlfriend.

UK sanctions also cover Belarusian petroleum product exporters, and the EU imposes sectoral sanctions on the export of insurance, tobacco, petroleum products and potatoes, which account for the majority of Belarus’ revenues.

Tsikhanouskaya said he was grateful for the widespread support from the international community since he fled Belarus last year after being threatened with arrest after the controversial presidential election. However, she argues that the exclusion has significantly slowed the impact of the measure, urging European forces to strengthen existing sector sanctions and impose more.

“Of course, our loved one, our relatives, have been terribly jailed and humiliated,” she said.

She also wants Washington to impose broader sanctions, arguing that such measures are one of the most powerful ways to put pressure on Lukashenko’s administration if adjusted.

“Now it’s a huge level of oppression. Every day, the number of political prisoners is increasing,” she said. She added that she had not called for a street demonstration on August 9, a year after the election, because of the crackdown.

During his visit to the United States, Tsikhanouskaya also met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, USAID Chief Samantha Power, and other senior members of the Biden administration.

“We talked …[how the US] It could help in this battle between dictatorship and democracy, “she added, adding that the main message received from US authorities was the willingness to” put multiple pressures on the administration. “

The Biden administration said in May that it would issue an executive order to the United States in Belarus to strengthen sanctions, but it has not yet imposed sanctions under it. Sullivan has indicated that further sanctions are imminent after the meeting with Chikanoskaya.

Biden did not mention sanctions, but said in a post-conference tweet that “the United States stands with the people of Belarus for democracy and world human rights,” supporting Chikanoskaya’s mission.

Tsikhanouskaya said Biden also asked after her husband during a “warm and human” meeting. “I just want to tell him,’Don’t stop believing,'” she said of her husband. “I want him to know that the whole world is with him.”

She also visited UN officials in New York, diaspora figures, scholars, and corporate leaders in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Some of them have shown interest in investing in Belarus over the next few years.

“We are in the process of a revolution, but we have to think about the future,” she said.

Additional report by Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London and Roman Olearchyk in Kiev

Belarusian opposition leaders urge west to tighten sanctions

Source link Belarusian opposition leaders urge west to tighten sanctions

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