Belarus to step up own security through contacts with Washington
Last week, President Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Makey met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin. Belarus anticipates expanding pragmatic cooperation with the United States in areas of mutual interest, which has enhanced over the past two years– for example, regarding safe transit of NATO cargo to Afghanistan through Belarus. Amid the unpredictable Kremlin’s foreign policy, Belarus’ improved relations with Washington also enhance her own security. In addition, the authorities expect that Washington will not interfere with the presidential election in 2015 through funding of the opposition and destabilising the country.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.