The Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels) supports the relaxation of visa sanctions. Its head Volha Stuzhynskaya states that the ODB is about to voice an opinion to revise the names on the current visa ban list to the EU institutions. The Office suggested 25 persons who could be regarded as potential candidates for exclusion. It is known that the persons in question are university rectors, ex-director of state-owned Belarusian TV and radio company Alexander Zimouski, businessman Uladzimir Peftsieu, Hanna Shadryna (ex-deputy editor of «Sovetskaya Belorussia», a newspaper of Lukashenka’s administration).
«To my opinion, tougher sanctions would lead to further repression, deterioration of the prisoners’ situation and bleak prospects for civil society existence. Stringent economic sanctions will not be introduced whereas the visa ban effect is counterproductive,» Volha Stuzhynskaya says.
The political prisoner’s wife Volha Bandarenka disagrees: «The visa ban effect is too weak if compared to the things which have been happening to the convicts behind the bars. Moreover, the number of political prisoners is increasing: Ales Bialiatski and Siarhei Kavalenka have been put in jail lately. Some officials whose names are included in the visa ban list come to EU countries having changed a surname spelling in a passport. Smart economic sanctions might well have more influence but until they have been introduced the existing bans should not be watered down.»
Iryna Khalip, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, believes that the visa ban list ought to include both “regime criminals” and their family members. «A prosecutor charging anyone for political views will have to think of own children’s reaction. As for potential candidates to be excluded from the list, they must be held responsibility for what they have done, even in case of resignation from their positions,» Iryna Khalip points out.