On the day of parliamentary elections, Alyaksandr Lukashenka expressed high hopes for improved relations with the United States.
“Will there be an Ambassador? Definitely. We have basically agreed on it”
The White House broke the dreams of the Belarusian ruler
Even though Washington noticed some improvements in parliamentary elections, it noted that it does not consider them fair and democratic. Moreover, State Department spokesman made it clear to official Minsk that if the human rights situation deteriorates, sanctions will remain.
“The sanctions regime was imposed in order to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus, and when Belarus makes significant strides in these areas, the United States will ease the sanctions. But if Belarus takes steps which would be contrary to its international obligations, then we reserve the right to strengthen sanctions or stop the process of easing,” said Mark Toner, US State Department spokesman.
Repression has intensified
The Belarus authorities expect the easing of sanctions, but do not relax the pressure on activists. Independent observers and opposition activists Leanid Kulakou and Syarhei Matskoits spent three days in jail since the election day.
“We were filmed by 6 or 8 police staff who did not ID themselves, when their colleagues rounded us up and searched,” said Syarhei Matskoits, “European Belarus” campaign activist.
The absolutely sober observers were placed in the sobering-up station … where the alcotest naturally confirmed the absence of alcohol in their blood. And then … they were convicted of disobeying police.
The other day, the Central Court of the capital summoned UCP leader Anatol Lyabedzka and the case of Mikalai Statkevich was reviewed even without informing the politician.
Public activist Aleh Korban was fined by the same court BYN 420 for taking part in a festive event to mark the 25th anniversary of Independence of Belarus.
Press also gets affected
Authorities do not forget about the independent media either. The “New Time” (Novy Chas) newspaper was refused distribution via kiosks and “Belpochta” by the information minister Liliya Ananich.
Perhaps she does not like the Belarusian language, maybe she does not like the normal, thoughtful, serious newspapers, which not only prints news and messages that affect no one, but also prints serious analytical articles,” said Aksana Kolb, chief editor of the newspaper in question.
Meanwhile, analysts say, the authorities that became relatively restrained during the campaign, will now return to the regular persecution of activists and independent media. But in order not to worsen relations with the West, they will do it without unnecessary cruelty.
“We need to avoid excesses. You can rig the elections, put pressure on the opposition, make administrative arrests, give fines to break up the rallies, but not in the brutal way,” explained political analyst Andrei Yahorau.
This way immediately after the elections, the repressive machine started operating at medium speed again.
Volha Starastsina, Belsat, photo – belprauda.org