Updated at 17:19,07-01-2021

European Parliament demands immediate release of political prisoners

European Parliament demanded immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners by the Belarusian authorities in the adopted resolution on the situation in Belarus in Brussels on Thursday.

According to the resolution, "until political prisoners are not released and their full civil rights are restored, as well as in the lack of progress in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the dialogue between the European Union and Belarus cannot be continued".

The document names the prisoners, whom the European Parliament calls to release in the first place. This is the head of Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Belyatsky, former presidential candidates Statkevich and Andrei Sannikov, responsible for the campaign of opposition candidates Pavel Sevyarynets and Dmitri Bondarenko, political prisoner Sergei Kovalenko, who has held a long hunger strike protest, which dangerously undermined his health.

The resolution condemned the deteriorating situation with human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, as well as the absence of profound democratic and economic reforms in Belarus.

The European Parliament promises to continue to speak out against repressions in Minsk against the opposition.

European MPs have condemned the persecution of human rights defenders for political reasons, democratic opposition, civil society and independent media.

The resolution notes that solidary withdrawal of ambassadors of all EU countries from Minsk suggests the collapse of the Belarusian authorities' attempts to split the ranks of the EU on sanctions. The document condemns insulting statement of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

European deputies stressed that "Minsk, instead of more and more going into self-isolation, would be worth making the right choice for the sake of people and open democracy."

MEPs deeply regretted the carrying into effect, in spite of protests, including international ones, the death penalty of Vladislav Kovalev and Dmitry Konovalov, convicted for the bombing in Minsk subway, called on the Belarusian authorities to give the bodies of executed to their relatives and demanded the immediate establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty.

The document expresses regret for compiling a list by the Belarusian authorities of the opposition and human rights activists, who are banned from traveling abroad. Minsk urged to put an end to such practices that violate fundamental freedoms of Belarus' citizens.

The resolution supports the expansion of the restrictive measures taken by the Council of the EU towards Belarus on March 23, and invites it to take into account the latest diplomatic complications with this country and the deterioration in its human rights situation. At the same time the European Parliament asked the European Commission to provide financial and political support to civil society organizations and independent media in Belarus.