Minsk anticipates more contact with Washington
Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister Guryanov met with the multi-sectoral delegation from the United States, including representatives of the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Defence Ministry.
Amid growing geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West, Belarus hopes that Washington will soften its position towards the Belarusian leadership, and that contact with the United States and the EU will increase. Meanwhile, she does not want to aggravate the Kremlin with the prospects of normalising relations with the West. The Belarusian authorities also want to limit cooperation with the United States to humanitarian and economic issues, without having to change the political situation in 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.