Belarus opposition activists in Vilnius call for sanctions on Lukashenko government

Belarusian opposition activists in Vilnius have called on the international community to respond to violence against protesters and impose sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko’s government.

Protests erupted in Minsk and other cities in Belarus after the official results of Sunday’s presidential election gave the victory to Lukashenko.

“Today we woke up in a new country. Lukashenko still keeps the power, but, at the same time, the country has changed,” Olga Karach, the leader of the civic initiative Our House, told reporters at the Lithuanian parliament’s building in Vilnius.

“Belarus woke up and Belarus doesn’t want to sleep again,” she said.

Opposition activists issued a statement to European and US politicians and diplomats, asking them “not to forgive the spilled blood of peaceful Belarusian citizens and to respond to this brutal crackdown”.

The statement also calls on the international community to suspend any financial support to the Belarusian regime and to impose personal sanctions on its representatives and economic sanctions on state-owned enterprises.

Brian Olley, the British ambassador in Vilnius, expressed his “personal support to Lithuania ant the reaction to the situation in Belarus”.

“I emphasise deep concerns over the reports of serious human rights [violations] in Belarus. I urge the Belarusian authorities not to resort to violence and let the true voice of Belarusian people be heard,” the ambassador told the news conference.

“The United Kingdom is working closely and urgently with Lithuania, the European Union and the US to the side on next steps,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Belarusian people in this critical time in history.”

Belarus’ election commission reported on Monday that Lukashenko won 80 of the vote, but the opposition say the results were falsified.

Protesters and police clashed in Minsk and other Belarusian cities after the presidential election.

Police in Belarus detained some 3,000 people for taking part in unauthorised gatherings after post-election demonstrations on Sunday, the interior ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that 1,000 of the detentions were in the capital Minsk and the rest in other parts of the country.

Fifty civilians and 39 police officers were injured in clashes in the capital, it said, denying there were any deaths.

Meanwhile the Viasna human rights group reported that at least one person has been killed and dozens injured in the clashes between police and protesters.

Žygimantas Pavilionis of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats called on foreign diplomats in Minsk “to go out of embassies and stand with people”.

Pavilionis, a former Lithuanian ambassador to the US, said Belarus’ forces would not dare to use violence if they thought there were foreign diplomats in the crowd.

“I was talking today with our diplomats; it’s sad, but if you sit in the embassy and your internet connection is blocked, you don’t see much more than we do. You are our eyes. We don’t know what exactly is happening. You have to report it,” he said.


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