EU prepares new Belarus sanctions amid call for weekend protests
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya thanked Ukraine for supporting European sanctions and not recognizing Lukashenko’s legitimacy
KIEV – Belarus is ready to take “retaliatory measures” against Ukraine for its accession to the European sanctions against the entourage of Alexander Lukashenko.
“At the initial stage, we also prepared a sanctions list against Ukrainian officials. We will see how events will develop further. We will not leave any of Ukraine’s actions against the Belarusian state unanswered, ”Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told reporters on November 26, BelTA learned..
He noted that “Ukraine is not a standard for us in human rights and, we believe, cannot act as a mentor or teacher in relation to Belarus in this situation”.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic departments of the two countries exchanged statements regarding the recent speeches in Belarus and the picket by activists of the republic’s embassy in Ukraine..
“The law enforcement agencies of Ukraine are taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of both the protesters and the Belarusian embassy and its employees on an ongoing basis, especially during protests,” the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said on November 26.
Ukrainian diplomats remind their Belarusian colleagues that “for Ukraine, as a European democratic state, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is of fundamental importance.” “There is no reason to restrict the right to peaceful protest in this situation,” the statement underlines, Interfax-Ukraine reports. “.
As reported by the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty, on November 21, Belarusian activist Anton Lukashuk spent seven hours kneeling and handcuffed under the Belarusian embassy in Kiev. Anton told Radio Liberty that the purpose of his action was to draw the attention of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the lawlessness that reigns in Belarus and ask him to simplify the procedure for the stay of Belarusian citizens in Ukraine.
According to the Charter’97 website, the European Union is currently preparing the third package of sanctions against Belarus that may affect companies and businessmen associated with Alexander Lukashenko – the lists may be adopted as early as December 7 at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Tihanovskaya will visit Kiev
Leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stated that she plans to visit Ukraine “in the near future”. She spoke about this in an exclusive interview with Radio Liberty.
“I want to say a big thank you to the Ukrainians who support us and the Ukrainian government. We hear words of support all the time. And Ukraine joined the European sanctions, did not recognize the legitimacy of Lukashenka. The fraternal people support us, great. Unfortunately, the date of the visit to Ukraine has not yet been approved, but I hope that in the near future. I can’t say for sure, we are coordinating ”, – said Tikhanovskaya.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition added that she was talking about this with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.
To a clarifying question, whether the Ukrainian side is putting forward any conditions for the meeting, she replied: “No, conditions are not being set for us, we will have a friendly meeting.”.
Meeting with Lavrov in Minsk
On November 26, Minsk hosted a meeting between Alexander Lukashenko and Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at which they discussed “strengthening, intensifying relations”.
“We have the same interest in strengthening relations. You can call it differently, but we have the same goal – to move towards the mutual benefit of our peoples, our countries and our Union State, ”said Sergey Lavrov, regional media report.
Commentators note that Lukashenka has repeatedly stated that the existing social system in the country is partly authoritarian and there is a need to build a system that would not be tied to the personality of the president..
It should be reminded that popular protests in Belarus began on August 9 after the end of voting on the day of the presidential election. In the 2020 elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya ran for President of the Republic of Belarus. According to official data, Tikhanovskaya received 10.1% of the vote, and Alexander Lukashenko – 80.1%.
Russia is in a hurry?
Expert of the programs of international and domestic policy of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future Igor Tyshkevich believes that Russia is very interested in carrying out constitutional reform in Belarus.
“Because in this case, Russia will be able to create a pro-Russian political party. In the Belarusian political field, the Kremlin does not have its own Medvedchuk (chairman of the political council of the Opposition Platform – For Life party – TB), but they need their own Belarusian Medvedchuk, ”Igor Tyshkevich says to the Voice of America correspondent.
The expert believes that Lukashenko’s actions are aimed at dragging out time, and the current visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is intended to hasten him.
At the same time, according to Igor Tyshkevich, in the situation with Belarus, official Kiev could increase its foreign policy influence if it took the position of a mediator between Minsk and Europe..
“This is what Yushchenko did. He started in a much worse situation, and in 2005 he said that the next goal in the foreign policy field is a revolution in Belarus. And in 2008 he was already called Lukashenka’s lawyer, and he was, as it were, an intermediary, ”emphasizes Igor Tyshkevich.
According to him, a number of European countries – Sweden, Norway, Austria, the Netherlands, on the one hand, are pursuing a tough policy in relations with Lukashenka, and on the other, they leave “some space to contact him in the future.”.
“This is necessary to draw him into the common European discourse,” Igor Tyshkevich believes..
In Kremlin orbits
Head of the Center for Political Research “Doctrine” Yaroslav Bozhko notes that the visit of Sergei Lavrov to Belarus “is needed for negotiations and coordination of the positions of the new reality, which will be imposed on Belarus by the Kremlin”.
“This means continued deepening of the union state and increased opportunities for the deployment of new Russian troops in Belarus on a long-term basis. Also, Lavrov’s participation may relate to the development of scenarios for catalyzing or dispersing mass protests. The Russian Federation has carte blanche in relations with the Belarusian authorities, so the main subject of negotiations will be concessions towards Moscow’s interests, ”Yaroslav Bozhko told the Voice of America correspondent..
He explains the discord in the sphere of Ukrainian-Belarusian relations with Kiev’s reluctance to agree with the deep entry of Belarus into the orbit of Russia..
“This poses a direct threat to Ukraine, Kiev’s strategy is to abandon business as usual. It is advisable to expect a change in this approach after the change of power in Belarus, since neither the European Union, nor the United States, nor Ukraine recognizes the current government of Belarus, ”Yaroslav Bozhko said..