Parliament’s EPP Group calls for sanctions against Belarusian President and law enforcement leaders

Alexander Lukashenko won a landslide re-election victory after bloody clashes between riot police and thousands of protesters who said Sunday’s poll was rigged.
Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

11 Aug 2020

The centre-right grouping, the biggest in Parliament, is also pushing for renewed EU help programmes in support of the country’s civil society.

The move on Tuesday comes after the European Union’s foreign policy chief and its commissioner for enlargement said the election in Belarus at the weekend had been marred by “disproportionate and unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters.”

“We condemn the violence and call for the immediate release of all [those] detained during the election,” Josep Borrell and Oliver Varhelyi said in a joint statement.

There are numerous indications of fraud in Belarus’ presidential election, a spokesman for the German foreign ministry said. A German government spokesman said that minimum standards were not adhered to in the vote and added that the EU was discussing how to react.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, meanwhile, has called on the leaders of the Commission and the European Council to hold a special European Union summit on Belarus.

In power for more than a quarter of a century, Lukashenko defeated Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who emerged from obscurity to lead the biggest challenge to his rule in years.

“The hostile acts of the law enforcement services towards Belarusians and the falsification of the elections must have consequences. We need targeted sanctions against President Lukashenko, his environment and the leadership of law enforcement services involved in the repression of the Belarusian people”

In the protests, one man died while trying to throw an unidentified explosive device at police that blew up in his hands.

Local media reported clashes breaking out in other towns. Opposition candidate Tikhanouskaya said she refused to recognise the official results.

In a statement signed by EPP leader Manfred Weber and seven group colleagues, the EPP called for action against Belarus.

The statement is signed by Sandra Kalniete, David McAllister, Andrius Kubilius. Michael Gahler, Miriam Lexmann, Andrzej Halicki and Radosław Sikorski.

It reads, “The hostile acts of the law enforcement services towards Belarusians and the falsification of the elections must have consequences. We need targeted sanctions against President Lukashenko, his environment and the leadership of law enforcement services involved in the repression of the Belarusian people.”

“We also need to relaunch targeted EU help programmes in support of the Belarusian civil society, the repressed persons and their families.”

“The Belarusians have clearly rejected President Lukashenko’s rule. The long queues in front of polling stations in many parts of the country confirm that the citizens of Europe’s last dictatorship want change”

It goes on, “The Belarusians have clearly rejected President Lukashenko’s rule. The long queues in front of polling stations in many parts of the country confirm that the citizens of Europe’s last dictatorship want change.”

“They have the right to protest and to publicly express their anger because of this stolen victory. We call on President Lukashenko to stop the repression of peaceful protesters, and on Russia to refrain from any interference. The European Union must continue to support the democratic aspirations of Belarus as it has done for many years now.”

Elsewhere, Poland’s ministry of foreign affairs condemned the violence and appealed to the Belarusian authorities “to stop escalating the situation and to start respecting fundamental human rights.”

Foreign observers have not judged an election to be free and fair in Belarus since 1995.

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