Call for Urgent Release of Political Prisoners in Belarus!

Michael Batiukov

Representatives of the National Coordinating Council of Democratic Forces intend to continue to travel abroad, seeking help in releasing political prisoners and former presidential candidates from KGB jails in Belarus.

This was announced on Jan.17th, 2011 by Aleksander Kozulin (former presidential candidate 2006) at a press conference in Minsk, Belarus. Aleksander Kozulin himself, at one time, was considered a "Belarusian political prisoner number One". He was arrested in March 2006 during a peaceful protest against rigged presidential elections results and held in custody for two and a half years.

National Coordinating Council was created by representatives of the Belarusian opposition on January 9, 2011 and is going to work on a permanent basis. The most important purpose of the Council is to release those arrested on political grounds.

According to Kozulin, representatives of democratic forces visited Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium last week. "In the near future we plan to visit the Netherlands, Sweden, again Brussels and Strasbourg. The main question we put before our European colleagues - call for urgent release of political prisoners in Belarus, "- the politician said.

Overseas delegation of Democratic Forces conducted a series of consultations and working meetings with officials of the European Union. Hopefully, these meetings will have an impact on further EU policy towards Belarus.

In turn, the leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Gramada Stanislav Shushkevich noted: " We do not need to explain to Western politicians what has happened in Belarus on December 19th, 2010. After a meeting with the European Parliament where we were welcomed by its Chairman Jerzy Buzek, I realized that he was talking about just the same what I wanted to say: Lukashenko lost the elections, elections were rigged, that people were wrongly accused and planted in KGB jails, there were no riots, and all, so called, riots were masterminded by the intelligence KGB provocations, which resulted in severe beatings of peaceful demonstrators and presidential candidates by hundreds of fully equipped soldiers of special police forces."

At the same time representatives of the National Coordinating Council emphasize: they do not intend to give any advice to European politicians on the issues of sanctions against the official Minsk.

"We believe that the best sanction against Belarus leadership - is free visas to European Union countries for ordinary citizens of Belarus. Everything else should be decided by foreign countries and the EU in connection with the requirements that they put in front of Belarus. Therefore, we do not give any recommendations on sanctions"- the politician said.

According to Victor Ivashkevich, a team member of the presidential candidate Andrey Sannikov, the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Sweden compared the post-election situation in Belarus with the situation in Poland, where in 1981 martial law was imposed, and the Milochevic regime in Yugoslavia.

"Logically, European Union should know what to do in the situations like ours, they were working on those situations, and know what mechanisms were developed by European countries to influence those regimes to achieve democratic changes in them"- said the politician.

In his opinion, also the experience of the newest history of Belarus should not be rejected. "We know how the U.S. government worked on Belarus. Thanks to their help Aleksander Kozulin was released from jail" - Ivashkevich said.

Nevertheless this time Europe's response to events of December 19th, 2010 should be different because "is not caused only by the fact of election fraud (falsifications were before) and not only by the wave of repressions after the elections (repressions were before either). The position of European society should be influenced by the fact that unlike in the past years everyone is convinced today: the majority of Belarusians voted against Lukashenko" - Ivashkevich said.

"Earlier, everyone said: yes, it was fraud, but Lukashenko has scored well, maybe, not 80%, but at least 60%. Today there is a belief, and numbers, and arguments that this time Lukashenko has not collected required 50% plus one vote to win during the first round the presidential elections"- the politician said.


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