Tsikhanouskaya: Sanctions imposed by EU not enough to put pressure on Lukashenka regime

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Photo: prezident.sveta / instagram

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya said that the restrictive measures introduced by the European Union were not enough to put pressure on Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his cronies.

The politician urged the democratic countries to ‘stop funding the Lukashenka regime and impose new sanctions against Belarusian officials and judges’.

Only 90 people are blacklisted; it is a travesty, and the regime is just laughing, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya believes.

The former presidential candidate also called on the West to support Belarusian independent media, human rights activists, strikers.

“The fact that the international community did not recognise Lukashenka as the legitimate winner of the election was of great importance. They supported [protesters], but they did not want to solve the problem,” she said.

On February 22, the foreign ministers of the EU member countries are expected to discuss the possibility of slapping new sanctions on the Belarusian authorities, Tsikhanouskaya’s aide Franak Vyachorka informed. Convening the session was initiated by Poland, Lithuania, and Romania.

It [holding the meeting] bears a relation to the draconian sentences passed on journalists, activists as well as the start of Viktar Babaryka‘s trial. Tomorrow they are also going to talk about the fourth sanctions package which is in the making,” he said on Sunday.

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In early October, the European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions on more than 40 Belarusian officials over the vote rigging and post-election police violence in the country. However, the name of Alyaksandr Lukashenka was not added to the sanctions list at that moment. It included senior police and election officials, e.g. Interior Minister Yury Karayeu, Public Security Police Chief Alyaksandr Barsukou, Dzmitry Balaba, Commander of the Special Purpose Police Unit of Minsk (OMON), Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Valery Vakulchyk, ex-Head of the State Security Committee (KGB), and others. Yet later, the Council of the European Union added 15 members of the Belarusian authorities, including Lukashenka himself, as well as his son and national security adviser Viktar Lukashenka, to the list of individuals sanctioned in relation to the violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus.

In late November, MEPs passed a resolution on ‘the continuous violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular the murder of protester Raman Bandarenka’. The text was adopted by 613 votes in favour, 41 against and 35 abstentions. In the resolution, MEPs also highlighted that actions taken so far by the EU and the member states against the Lukashenka regime were ‘insufficient’. After the Council of the European Union approved the third package of sanctions against Lukashenka regime in December, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry criticised the European partners’ stance, announced limiting the activities of some political foundations in Belarus and reviewing their humanitarian, educational, cultural programs in the country, including those offered by foreign states’ embassies.

In late January, EEAS spokesman Peter Stano warned that if ‘bad developments’ continued in Belarus, the sanction regime might be extended.

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