Press Releases S&Ds: apply the same sanctions to Belarus as to Russia

S&Ds: apply the same sanctions to Belarus as to Russia

In order to acknowledge the Lukashenka regime’s complicity in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU must impose comparable sanctions on Belarus as it has done on Russia. Such measures would also act as a deterrent against any attempts to bypass the sanctions.

This S&D call is included in the resolution that the European Parliament will adopt later today. Parliament will also strongly condemn the Lukashenka regime’s increasingly ruthless repression of the people of Belarus and call for the immediate and unconditional release of recently convicted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, journalist Andrzej Poczobut, and all 1445 currently-detained political prisoners.*

The S&Ds denounce the politically-motivated show trials and unjust sentences against leaders of democratic Belarus, protestors, journalists, trade union leaders and activists. They commend the brave people of Belarus, who have resisted systematic repression by the Lukashenka regime for years now and still found the resolve to stand up to the regime’s complicity in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Thijs Reuten, S&D shadow rapporteur for Belarus and negotiator of the resolution, said:

“I firmly believe that, one day, our Parliament will discuss Belarus’s bright European future. But today, its cruel dictator is still trying to crush the pro-democracy partisan movements by stepping up its shameful show trials against human rights defenders and political activists. Because, like Putin, Lukashenka fears nothing more than democracy. In this light, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto’s recent Minsk trip was beyond outrageous. You simply do not discuss peace, whatever Viktor Orban thinks that means, with an illegitimate regime complicit in Russia’s brutal war.

“I condemn last week’s sentencing of Sakharov Prize laureate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the fearless leader of the Belarusian opposition, to 15 years in prison in absentia. Human rights heroes like Ales Bialiatski must be freed instantly. We must find new ways to put pressure on the regime to release all political prisoners. The European Union should finally ensure that the Lukashenka regime is subject to the exact same level of sanctions as Russia. There is no excuse to shield Putin’s co-aggressor. Everyone complicit in the regime’s repression – including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, prison and penal colony officials – should be subjected to sanctions. All EU-based companies should end their relations with any Belarusian suppliers that support the violent Lukashenka regime. I look forward to the day Belarus is free.”

*Note to editors:

According to the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, about 1,445 political prisoners are currently detained in Belarusian jails and penal colonies. Ales Bialiatski, ‘Viasna’ founder and Nobel Peace Prize 2022 laureate, is among those who were illegally imprisoned by the current Lukashenka regime. Many more were, or continue to be, sentenced to decade-long sentences. Polish-Belarusian journalist Andrzej Poczobut was sentenced to eight years in prison on 8 February 2023.

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