Belarusian opposition politician Alyaksandr Milinkevich has called on the European Union not to weaken attention to human rights problems in Belarus, saying that the country’s authorities continued "pressuring pro-democratic activists".
"Along with certain steps to liberalize the economy and some cosmetic changes in the democratization sphere, the Belarusian authorities continue pressuring pro-democratic activists", Mr. Milinkevich, who chairs the Movement for Freedom, said in the appeal.
The former presidential candidate mentioned the months-long detention of three Vawkavysk dissidents, Mikalay Awtukhovich, Yury Lyavonaw and Uladzimir Asipenka; and the justice ministry’s denial of registration to the Nasha Vyasna human rights group, the Assembly of Non-Governmental Pro-democratic Associations and the Belarusian Christian Democracy party.
Mr. Milinkevich expressed hope that human rights abuses "will be raised, as previously, within the framework of the European Union’s critical dialogue and constructive cooperation with Belarus". He called on the EU to cut Schengen visa fees "unilaterally" for the Belarusian nationals as part of its cooperation with the country within the European Partnership.
Mr. Milinkevich sent copies of the appeal to the German chancellor, the French president, the president of the European Parliament, as well as to the EU’s foreign policy chief and the EU’s commissioner for external relations and European Neighborhood Policy.