Belarusian opposition activist urges EU to freeze ties with Belarus

Prominent Belarusian opposition activist Alexander Milinkevich will call on European parliamentarians to freeze relations with Belarus over its authorities' crackdown on the opposition during the December presidential elections.

"Milinkevich believes that the European Union should freeze its relations with the Belarusian authorities in response to mass violations of human rights [during the polls]," a statement posted on the activist's website said.

The freeze should include the "suspension of European and international financial institutions' assistance programs being implemented through Belarusian state structures."

Besides this, the EU should toughen visa restrictions for those "responsible for falsifying the elections and the organizers of repressions on various levels," Milinkevich proposed, promising that "certain officials" will be named later.

Milinkevich intends to present his proposals to the European Parliament during a special session dedicated to Belarus later on Wednesday.

More than 600 people, including opposition leaders, were detained in the Belarusian capital during a police crackdown on demonstrators after the December 19 presidential vote that the opposition said had been rigged.

Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron rod since 1994 and has been dubbed by the United States "Europe's last dictator" for a clampdown on opposition and dissent, gained a landslide victory in the polls with 79.67% of the vote. International monitors said the election was "flawed."

During a high-level meeting in Brussels last week, the EU diplomats launched a procedure to reinstate a travel ban against the Belarusian leader and top government officials. According to diplomatic sources, the list of Belarusian officials facing the ban could be extended to over 100 people.

The final decision is to be taken at the meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 31. A consensus of all 27 EU member states is required for the measure.

Western nations, including the United States, introduced sanctions against the country and travel bans on President Lukashenko and Belarusian officials following the 2006 presidential elections which they called fraudulent.

The ban was however suspended in 2008 in a move aimed to "encourage Belarus to come closer to the European Union." In October 2010, the Council of the European Union prolonged the suspension of an entry ban against President Lukashenko and 35 Belarusian government officials until October 31, 2011.

MINSK, January 12 (RIA Novosti)


Partners: Social Network