Opposition politician: Lukashenka about to play ‘political prisoners’ card to prevent sanctions

Pavel Latushka. Photo: Belsat

The current Belarusian authorities are going to start ‘trading in political prisoners’ in order to prevent the imposition of US sanctions, Pavel Latushka, Head of the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration (PACA) in exile, said on April 18.

“The illegitimate government is facing the threat of real restrictions, not ‘cosmetic’ ones. From April 26 on, US sanctions will be unblocked,” the politician stressed in Snday’s address.

According to him, the would-be sanctions might deteriorate the already precarious situation the dictatorship has found itself in.

In their fear of sanctions, the Lukashenka regime might resort to ‘the favourite method of terrorists’, i.e. hostage trade, Pavel Latushka believes. In his view, the Belarusian officials might promise that defence lawyers will get unimpeded access to prisoners, that certain political prisoners will be released on bail or amnestied on condition that the sanctions are put on the back burner.

“The proposed scenario plays exclusively into the hands of Alyaksandr Lukashenka who is trying to avoid EU and US slapping sanctions against his regime. His goal is to retain power,” the PACA leader noted.

EU, US extend, ramp up sanctions against Belarus authorities, Poland demands release of Belsat journos

In late March, the United States announced their intention to reintroduce economic sanctions against Belarusian state-owned enterprises; they have been suspended since 2015. Nine Belarusian companies may be put under the US sanctions again: Belarusian Oil Trade House, Belneftekhim, Belshina OAO, Grodno Azot OAO, Grodno Khimvolokno OAO, Lakokraska OAO, Naftan OAO, Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO, Belorusneft. In this case, US businesses and citizens are to be barred from entering into economic and financial relationships with the above mentioned companies; all their assets and accounts located in the United States will be frozen. At the same time, Ned Price, Spokesman for the US Department of State, added that if the Lukashenka regime took proper steps, in particular, free all political prisoners and stop violence against the Belarusian people, such measure could be ‘reversible’.

Last week, EU member countries submitted their proposals regarding the fourth package of sanctions which might be introduced against the representatives of the Lukashenka regime in the near future, Franak Vyachorka, an international advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said.

Pavel Latushka: Opposition to raise question of recognising Lukashenka regime as terrorism