Belarus Remains a Bad Student of Democracy

The Council of Europe has finally sent a clear signal to Belarus by cutting contacts with the president-controlled Belarusian parliament.

The local elections in Belarus one week ago have been carried out in the same undemocratic manner as every election in the country since 1994. This fact very well sums up the ineffectiveness of Europe's latest attempt to establish a dialogue with Belarus. There is no hope now that the upcoming presidential elections, to take place in early 2011, will be any more democratic. It is therefore time now for a penalization of the Belarusian government.

The Belarusian regime's aim is to get the advantages of a cooperation with the West without making any steps towards democratization. The question for Western Europe is to invent which sanctions to impose, that would be felt by the Belarusian regime but would not destroy the possibility for the dialogue.

Besides that, abandonment or at least moratorium on death penalty seems an easy thing for the Belarusian authorities to arrange. Unlike freedom of speech or democratic elections, the abandonment of the death penalty does not threat the position of president Lukashenka in any way. However, it is an easily achievable measure that could present a big PR potential for the Belarusian regime. Sooner or later it will be realized. Let's just wait and see.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has decided to freeze contacts with the Belarusian parliament and high-level government members, a resolution adopted on Thursday said.

After a discussion about the situation in Belarus, PACE noted that the former Soviet republic has shown "a lack of progress towards Council of Europe standards" and "a lack of political will" to make progress in this direction.

"In particular, the Assembly condemns the executions of Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk, which were carried out in March 2010 in conditions of total secrecy and at a time when the United Nations Human Rights Committee had requested a stay in the executions pending its examination of their cases," the resolution said.


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