26 February 2024, Monday, 4:31
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Only Tough Sanctions Against Lukashenka Regime Will Free Political Prisoners

Only Tough Sanctions Against Lukashenka Regime Will Free Political Prisoners

It is necessary to keep up the pressure.

Natallia Radzina, editor-in-chief of the Charter97.org website, spoke at the panel of "Russia and Belarus in the Face of Sanctions" of the Polish Economic Forum, which is called the Eastern European Davos. Here is the full text of the speech:

"The economic, sectoral, sanctions against the Putin and Lukashenka regimes must be continued and intensified. It is worth reminding that sanctions have been imposed on Belarus for two reasons. First of all, international restrictive measures against the Lukashenka regime were imposed for the actual seizure of power in 2020, brutal suppression of protests against falsified election results, murder of peaceful demonstrators, unleashed terror against the population, thousands of political prisoners who were tortured and abused in Belarusian jails. And it should be noted here that the sloth-like pace with which the West imposed economic sanctions, confining itself to insignificant personal visa sanctions for almost a year, led to an escalation of human rights abuses in Belarus and to an actual terrorist act committed by Lukashenka, with a forced landing of a plane with a blogger on board. In the end, the Lukashenka regime became an accomplice to war by providing Belarusian territory to Russian troops for invading Ukraine.

Sanctions against dictatorships ought to be imposed in time, not waiting for them to threaten the security of neighbouring countries and the whole region.

It is important today to intensify sanctions against both Belarus and Russia. It is important to synchronize the sanctions packages imposed against these regimes. So far, unfortunately, the restrictions against Belarus are weaker, allowing the Putin regime to circumvent them through Belarus. It is also essential to closely monitor the implementation of the sanctions regime, as well as to impose secondary sanctions on countries through whose territory banned goods are delivered to Russia and Belarus. Georgia, Serbia, Kazakhstan and other states should be held responsible if they help the Putin and Lukashenkф dictatorships to circumvent the EU and US sanctions.

The impact of sanctions on the situation in Belarus is huge, and I'm sure they can dramatically change the situation in the country. The most massive sanctions in the history of Belarus have affected all sectors of the economy. The flagships of the Belarusian industry - Belaruskali, Hrodna Azot, Minsk Tractor Plant, the oil refineries in Navapolatsk and Mazyr - are facing tremendous difficulties, forced to cut production, not being able to sell their products. Mass layoffs are taking place, wages are falling and being delayed. The discontent of the people is growing and they blame the Lukashenka regime, which is considered to be in fact an occupation one, for the economic collapse. Hatred against the illegitimate power, for which the overwhelming majority of the population did not vote, is only growing against the background of the ongoing terror, which is close to genocide.

The regime also understands the power of sanctions and is now trying to deceive the West with flaunty demarches. All of a sudden, Lukashenka started talking about "amnesty", but how many political prisoners will be released? We must not allow bartering people again, the sanctions must not be eased until all prisoners of conscience are released. When not ten, not a hundred, but all political prisoners are released - and in reality there are three to five thousand of them in Belarus today - only then a partial lifting of the sanctions is possible. Simultaneously with the release of prisoners of conscience, political terror must be stopped and all independent mass media must be unblocked.

Today everyone is wondering how to stop Putin. I am sure that the fall of the Lukashenka regime can lead to the fall of the Putin one. Let's look at the map, realize the strategic importance of Belarus and start working seriously. When the pro-Russian puppet dictatorial regime of Lukashenka disappears, the security threat not only to Ukraine, but also to Poland and the Baltic States will disappear as well.

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