A group of Lithuanian politicians have called on the EU to impose sanctions on the Belarusian government, responsible for the ongoing repression of the opposition and media in the run-up to the presidential election.
The letter, published on Wednesday, was signed by Gediminas Kirkilas and Juozas Bernatonis, chairs of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committees on European and Foreign Affairs, opposition leader Gabrielius Landsbergis, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, leader of the Liberal Movements, and several other members of the Lithuanian and European parliaments.
“There is an urgent need to demonstrate a clear position of the whole EU that the brutal actions by the authoritarian Lukashenko’s regime cannot be tolerated,” the letter to the leaders of the EU institutions read. “Therefore, we call for renewal of sanctions against the regime and those responsible for the repressions against Belarusian people.”
Landsbergis, the leader of the conservative Homeland Union and the initiator of the address, said that “staying silent would amount to aiding and abetting” when “democracy is being brutally crushed in the vicinity” of the EU.
“We cannot close our eyes and cajole dictators as such policy would lead not only to moral capitulation of Europe but also to the betrayal of thousands of Belarusians taking to the streets to protest and demand democratic changes,” the politician told BNS.
Last week, Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern over the Belarusian authorities’ actions during the election campaign, stating that “continued political repressions and a possible increase in the number of new political prisoners will influence further relations between the European Union and Belarus”.
In recent months, the Belarusian government has arrested over 1,100 opposition activists, journalists, bloggers, and pro-democracy protesters in its move to quash political rivals ahead of the August election, where the long-term authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko will seek re-election.