How Lukashenka Demeans And Insults His Opponents In Belarus
According to experts, political prisoners in Belarus are being held as human shields
Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime uses its political opponents as hostages or “human shields” and therefore is not going to release the prisoners, continuing to ignore the demands of the wider world community. This is the opinion of the experts interviewed by the correspondents of the Russian service of the Voice of America.
It should be reminded that the confrontation between the authorities and those who protest against Lukashenka’s rule has been going on in Belarus for more than 130 days. During this period alone, more than five hundred criminal cases were initiated in the country. According to the data of the human rights center “Viasna” as of November 25, the number of political prisoners in the country was 143 people. Among them are the former presidential candidate Viktor Babarika, the head of his headquarters Maria Kolesnikova, Nikolai Statkevich and others..
On the eve of another prisoner – the opposition leader Sergei Tikhanovsky, the husband of the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is in jail – another charge was brought against him; this time – in inciting social hostility. Now he faces 12 years in prison. In addition, the prosecution allows Tikhanovsky to be held in custody for up to 18 months without trial..
Lev Ponomarev: “In fact, the protesters have already won”
The chairman of the national public organization “For Human Rights” Lev Ponomarev is sure that they make Tikhanovsky a typical hostage in order to try to influence his wife Svetlana. For similar reasons, other political prisoners are also kept in prison, Ponomarev believes..
According to the expert, this is a completely natural move for the Lukashenka regime, acting in the logic of state terrorism..
“It is characteristic that Lukashenka again began to tighten the screws on the eve of his meeting in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and after the visit to Minsk (Russian Foreign Minister) Sergei Lavrov,” Ponomarev explained in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. “It is not excluded that it was in the Kremlin that Lukashenka was advised to choose such a tough line of behavior”.
The situation in Belarus has reached an impasse, believes the human rights activist, who expressed admiration for the Belarusian citizens, who, in spite of everything, do not want to give in. In his opinion, it is especially important that the Belarusian protests are “built from below”: “A huge number of people in the republic are showing amazing firmness, defending their rights. This is a completely unique story, and the efforts of people in any case will not be in vain. Now some skeptics say that further resistance is pointless, that the protesters have lost. These are absolutely incorrect estimates. Hundreds of thousands of people in Belarus said their firm “No” to the regime and actually united ideologically, which sooner or later will lead to positive changes in the country ”.
Even if Lukashenka manages to stay in power for some more time, what is happening is a turning point for the country’s development, Ponomarev is convinced. No dictatorial regime can keep on the support of exclusively security officials and officials for a long time, the human rights activist emphasizes..
“In fact, the protesters have already won, uniting and showing character,” the source of the Voice of America Russian service is convinced. – Before, Belarusians were perceived as a resigned nation. Now – a completely different picture “.
In addition, what is happening in Belarus is a real example of how to fight for your rights for other countries – including Russia, says Lev Ponomarev.
Gennady Gudkov: “Today the international factor is becoming a key factor in the fight against dictatorships”
The Russian politician, ex-State Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov, agrees with Ponomarev that the fact that Sergei Tikhanovsky is “definitely a hostage”. In his opinion, Tikhanovsky should become one of the first numbers in the lists of political prisoners, whom the West demands to release, and Lukashenka is trying to use as a “human shield”.
“It is necessary to raise a high-profile campaign on this matter, to show the absurdity of the accusations against him,” the source of the Voice of America believes. – It seems to me that Lukashenka just “bit the bit” and does not adequately assess the consequences of his steps. He acts out of emotion, so he takes tough measures, protecting himself first of all, because he perfectly understands how everything can turn out for him. “.
The politician is convinced :: The West must clearly formulate and put forward demands to Lukashenka: “We need to publish the lists of people who innocently languish in prisons. We need more ambitious personal sanctions against officials and Lukashenka’s inner circle. They must understand that from now on the gates to the West are tightly closed for them. It is necessary to conduct international investigations into the origin of their captals. This is the only thing that can help the people of Belarus, otherwise a fascist regime with concentration camps, a total suppression of manifestations of any free-thinking will be established there ”.
Today the international factor is becoming a key factor in the fight against dictatorships, says Gennady Gudkov: “The example of Lukashenka and others like him says that they will not leave under any form of peaceful protest. By and large, they are pushing their countries into civil war. Today’s dictatorships are a direct threat and challenge to the entire democratic world. Russia poses a particular danger in this context, since it has a huge nuclear potential “.
The absence of a dictatorship in Russia would lead to the elimination of the dictatorship in Belarus, the collapse of authoritarian regimes in Central Asia and would solve many pressing problems of our time, Gudkov is convinced.
Arseniy Sivitsky: “Lukashenko found himself in a geopolitical trap”
Director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies Arseniy Sivitsky believes that Lukashenko is keeping the leaders of the “new opposition” – Viktor Babariko, Maria Koleksnikova and Sergei Tikhanovsky – in prison to emphasize that he remains in control of the situation.
“The release of these people will lead to the fact that the street protest will acquire leaders. In addition, it is important to note that the release of political prisoners is demanded not only by the West, but also by Russia, ”the Belarusian expert said in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service“ Voice of America. And he added that the requirements for Lukashenka are not limited only to the release of Babariko, Tikhanovsky and members of their teams: it is also necessary to achieve security guarantees for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Valery Tsepkalo after their return to Belarus from forced emigration. The next step that the Kremlin expects from Alexander Lukashenko, reminds Sivitsky, should be the organization of a national dialogue to find a way out of Belarus from the current political crisis, reform of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the announcement of early presidential and parliamentary elections..
According to Sivitsky, this was discussed during the Sochi meeting between Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin in September this year. “Lukashenka … is trying in every possible way to postpone the fulfillment of his obligations and is looking for various formal reasons in order to keep his political opponents under arrest for as long as possible,” the expert notes..
Sivitsky also mentioned the rumor that had spread recently that during a visit to Minsk by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the possibility of releasing Viktor Babariko was discussed – on condition that he leaves Belarus and leaves, for example, to Cyprus..
“Lukashenka allegedly agreed with this option,” Sivitsky continues, “but this does not correspond to Moscow’s vision of how he should implement the so-called Sochi agreements. As a result, Lukashenka found himself in a geopolitical trap, because the West and Russia, in fact, demand the same thing. If Lukashenka goes to fulfill these agreements, which ultimately imply the return of the country to the parliamentary form of government that existed before 1994, this will lead to the fact that he will quit the game and will not in any way influence the internal political processes in the country ”.
Fearing this, Lukashenka is trying to torpedo the agreements reached in Sochi, says Arseniy Sivitsky.