Parliamentary campaign coincided with increased repressions

April 22, 2016 18:12

The Belarusian authorities demonstrate to the West that they do not want any interference with the election campaign. Increased repressions against Belarusian journalists working for European media meant to counteract the EU threats to extend sanctions against Belarusian officials and businessmen.

On June 18th, President Lukashenko set the date for elections to the National Assembly. On June 21-22, two journalists working for Belarusian foreign media were arrested: Mr. Poczobut and Mr. Sverdlov.

Announcement of the Parliamentary elections date in Belarus had no impact on the domestic political situation. Pressure on opposition activists and civil society is not released. In fact, the amount of pressure on independent media journalists has increased sharply.

In particular, during last week two journalists, working for foreign media were arrested in Belarus: Andrzey Poczobut and Pavel Sverdlov. As well, security officials have organized a demonstrative surveillance of the European Radio for Belarus offices. Criminal proceeding initiated against Poczobut envisage up to 5 years of imprisonment.

Most likely, with these actions against journalists the Belarusian authorities attempted to respond to a statement by Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Co-operation and OSCE, European External Action Service Mr. Wiegand that the EU could expand sanctions against Belarus. On June 18th this information was published in the EUObserver. Prompt and rigid reaction of Minsk indicates that country’s senior management has no double thoughts about resuming a dialogue on the EU conditions.

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