Belarusian security forces shot dead a 31-year-old man, identified by the pro-democracy opposition as an IT worker with U.S. company EPAM Systems during a raid on Tuesday at an apartment block in the capital Minsk. The man had opened fire against the plain clothed security forces, one of whom also died. Many fear that the shooting incident will trigger a large-scale wave of terror against the regime’s opponents. General Belakoneu, a member of the Lukashenaka’s parliament, said that it’d be good to kill 20 or 100 persons as reprisal for KGB officer’s death. Over hundred people have been arrested for commenting on social media about a shoot-out so far. Special Envoy for Belarus, Julie Fisher commented that this incident provided further evidence of human rights abuses under Lukashenka’s rule.
C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, a U.S. Representative nominee to Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, expressed his concern about limited actions in response to diversion of the Ryanair flight by the Lukashenka regime and suggested temporary suspension of Belarus’ voting rights at the council. The European Union, the United States, Britain and Canada have blacklisted numerous Belarus officials, lawmakers and ministers over the May episode, and in July, the Biden administration banned ticket sales for air travel between the U.S. and Belarus.
Jailed Belarusian opposition figure Maryya Kalesnikava, sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to seize power, was awarded the annual Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Oct 2: Washington Post Opinion: Lukashenka is exploiting migrants as a weapon against his neighbors. The E.U. must stop him
The EU must close the Belarus economic sanctions loopholes. Lukashenka became a threat not only to his own population. He is using helpless migrants as a threat against the EU countries, Poland, and Lithuania. The European Union announced restrictions on visas to the Belarusian officials. However, these measures are not strong enough.
Repressions in Belarus
Alyaksandr Kapshul, former legal advisor at Belarus' largest petrochemical complex Naftan, who joined the nation-wide strike last December and subsequently represented other strikers in courts, was detained by Russian border guards on the Russian-Ukrainian border and handed over to the KGB of Belarus. He is reported to be held in the KGB’s pre-detention center with a broken leg and an injured arm.
Joining the list of victims in the crackdown on dissidents facilitated by Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, is one of the country’s oldest independent human rights groups. Belarusian Helsinki Committee is faced with a lawsuit from the Justice Ministry demanding its liquidation.
The Belarusian Supreme Court liquidated the Belarusian Writer’s Union founded in 1934.
Belarus’s Information Ministry blocked access to the website of the Belarusian version of the popular Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda after the website published on September 28 comments by an acquaintance of Andrey Zeltsar, a Minsk resident who some opposition figures have identified as the man who was shot dead by security forces in a shoot-out in the capital.
Belarus and Europe
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson sees Lukashenka’s strategy of shipping migrants across the EU border as a sign of weakness and desperation. While discussing the sanctions already imposed on the regime, the Commissioner described Lukashenka as “not a partner we are ready to cooperate with”.
In response to the migrant crisis, facilitated by the Lukashenka’s regime, the EU plans to reverse some Visa issuing rules adopted back in 2020. The proposed changes are supposed to significantly complicate the process of obtaining EU visas for the Belarusian government officials. The changes will not affect ordinary Bealrusian citizens.
Sep 29: Lukashenka versus Ukraine
Once a close ally with Ukraine, Lukashenka has completely reversed the course of the Belarusian foreign policy towards the southern neighbor in the last year. Having Russia as the only remaining partner in the region, Belarus has to also align its policies, including bizarre soviet-style propaganda campaigns that allege NATO threat now originating from Ukraine.
On Monday, the Belarus Foreign Minister accused Western nations of carrying out “a large-scale hybrid war without acknowledging neither the sham elections in August 2020 nor the government crackdown that followed.
The Eurasian Economic Commission is coordinating retaliatory measures in response to the Western sanctions. Belarus is the driving force behind the proposals.
Lukashenka called on Tuesday for changes to the constitution that would prevent an opposition movement from coming to power because they would “destroy the country”. He did not specify what specific changes were planned to the constitution, but repeated that a referendum on them should take place no later than February.