Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests and the impartial media is popping his nation into “the North Korea of Europe,” the nation’s opposition chief informed U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged more durable U.S. and European Union sanctions focusing on Lukashenko’s earnings sources, together with “cronies who finance the regime” and state-run enterprises.
She testified by phone from Prague to the Senate International Relations Committee. U.S. President Joe Biden was headed for Europe on Wednesday – his first worldwide journey – the place his discussions had been anticipated to incorporate Belarus. read more
Tsikhanouskaya fled into exile after Lukashenko, who has stored a decent grip on Belarus since rising to energy in 1994, launched a crackdown on protesters who accused him of rigging his 2020 re-election, a vote that she broadly was seen as successful.
Western powers have refused to acknowledge Lukashenko’s victory. He denies election fraud and allegations of human rights abuses.
Lukashenko has intensified his crackdown on ongoing protests and impartial media. Final month he drew worldwide outrage by having a navy plane power a Ryanair jet to land in Minsk, the place a Belarusian social media activist aboard was arrested, prompting an EU ban on the state-run airline.
Tsikhanouskaya mentioned that United States and EU ought to implement “a complete and unwavering response” to power Lukashenko to carry a brand new election and finish what she referred to as his abuses.
“In any other case all of us will face such conditions sooner or later as Lukashenko is popping my nation into the North Korea of Europe – non-transparent, unpredictable and harmful,” she informed the committee, referring to one of many world’s most repressive nations.
U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher, who has been refused a visa to imagine her publish, testified throughout the identical listening to that Lukashenko has change into ever-more reliant on backing by Russia. Because of this, Fisher mentioned, he not can affect Russian navy actions in Belarus.
Lukashenko’s “willingness to extend dependency on Russia in each doable sphere … has introduced him to the purpose of being in no place, actually, to barely have a say in what it’s Russia would determine to do militarily,” Fisher mentioned.
Russia and Belarus are planning a report variety of navy workouts, in line with specialists, have signed a strategic partnership accord, and there have been stories they’re planning to open three new joint navy bases.
Earlier within the day, Tsikhanouskaya informed the Czech Senate that a global tribunal ought to be established to research what she referred to as the “crimes” of Lukashenko’s “dictatorship.” Tsikhanouskaya was visiting Prague earlier than a summit of the Group of Seven superior economies in Britain this week at which Belarus is predicted to be mentioned. read more
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