Updated at 15:27,23-09-2020

Opposition leaders condemn EU’s decision to lifts sanctions against Belarusian authorities

By Syarhey Karalevich, BelaPAN

Belarusian opposition politicians Mikalay Statkevich, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew and Anatol Lyabedzka expressed disapproval of the European Union’s decision to lift its restrictive measures against Belarusian authorities.

“The abolition of the sanctions paves the way for Alyaksandr Lukashenka to obtain Western loans,” Mr. Statkevich told BelaPAN. “He’s finally able to play a game he’s long wanted to play, that is, get money from the West and the East without changing anything in the country. If the West does give him money, the economic crisis will become less acute, and a new wave of politically motivated persecution may be launched.”

According to Mr. Statkevich, EU’s decision means that Belarus will have “another undemocratic election this year.”

Mr. Statkevich warned that the EU’s attempts to “keep things quiet in Belarus at any cost” would backfire. “Social tensions are growing in the country,” he said. “If pro-European opposition forces are weakened, public discontent may lead to protests that will be led by pro-Russian forces. We already have officials who support those forces. That is why the West is playing a very dangerous game here.”

Mr. Nyaklyayew echoed Mr. Statkevich’s remarks, noting that the abolition of the sanctions would be a signal for the IMF to issue a loan to Belarus. He ruled out the possibility of political reforms under Mr. Lukashenka, explaining that they would spell the end for his government system. He warned that there could be no economic reforms without political reforms.

“If this year’s parliamentary elections were democratic and resulted in the formation of some pro-democratic parliamentary group, it would be possible to talk about some progress,” Mr. Statkevich. “However, it is out of the question with Lukashenka personally controlling all branches of power.”

Mr. Lyabedzka accused the European Union of inconsistency. “The problems that led to the imposition of the restrictive measures have not been solved,” he said. “The abolition of those restrictions will discourage authorities from changing the game rules ahead of the parliamentary elections. It is also a bad signal for the pro-European electorate.”