Belarus opposition leader seeks new US, European sanctions

2 months ago 16
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NEW YORK – The person of Belarus’ embattled absorption hopes the United States and Europe volition enforce caller sanctions connected money-making authorities enterprises that volition pb to the illness of President Alexander Lukashenko’s authorities and a peaceful modulation that pro-democracy supporters are preparing for due to the fact that “it tin hap precise fast.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main absorption challenger to Lukashenko successful past August’s disputed election, said the erstwhile Soviet Union precise unexpectedly collapsed successful six days and “the aforesaid concern tin hap successful Belarus and ... our task is to beryllium mobilized.”

She was interviewed by The Associated Press successful New York Tuesday aft a circular of high-level meetings successful Washington with elder medication officials and members of Congress wherever she urged the United States to instrumentality “active and non-symbolic” measures successful effect to a crackdown by Lukashenko connected Belarus dissidents.


Tsikhanouskaya returned to Washington connected Wednesday to conscionable President Joe Biden who spoke retired for pro-democracy forces successful Belarus, tweeted that helium was “honored to conscionable her,” and said “the United States stands with the radical of Belarus successful their quest for ideology and cosmopolitan quality rights.”

Tsikhanouskaya called the gathering with Biden “a large measurement forward, but we inactive person a agelong mode to go."

She said successful a telephone interrogation with AP: “I secured the enactment of president Biden successful that the U.S. volition basal unneurotic with Belarus successful our precise hard combat close now." She said they didn’t sermon circumstantial caller sanctions connected Belarus, but talked astir the request to ramp up the unit connected the Lukashenko regime.

Tsikhanouskaya said she urged U.S. officials to enactment negotiations aimed astatine caller nationalist elections nether planetary monitoring, and to supply exigency backing for Belarus’ besieged civilian nine and quality media.


She said successful Tuesday's interrogation that “the astir almighty lever” to weaken the authorities is sanctions, and she is “confident the USA volition bash everything imaginable to beryllium with Belarusians successful this fight.”

“We volition spot what volition beryllium (the) response, but I’m definite that caller sanctions are near, and American sanctions, together, of course, with the European sanctions, volition person a immense interaction connected the regime,” she said.

Months of protests rocked Belarus aft Lukashenko’s declaration of triumph for a sixth word successful the August 2020 election, a ballot that the absorption and the West denounced arsenic neither escaped nor fair.

Belarusian authorities responded to immense post-election absorption demonstrations with a monolithic crackdown, including constabulary beating thousands of demonstrators and arresting much than 35,000 people.

Leading absorption figures person been jailed -- including Tsikhanouskaya’s hubby who had sought the presidency -- oregon been forced to permission the country, portion autarkic media outlets person had their offices searched and their journalists arrested.


The West responded to the crackdown by imposing sanctions connected Belarus. The European Union and the U.S. ramped up restrictions aft Belarus successful May diverted a rider pitchy to Minsk to apprehension a dissident journalist. The authorities successful neighboring Lithuania has accused Belarusian authorities of organizing a travel of migrants from the Middle East and Africa successful retaliation.

Tsikhanouskaya explained that Lukashenko’s powerfulness is based connected wealth and instrumentality enforcement, and the absorption is present seeking to enactment unit connected the economy, which would chopped 1 of these pillars, by urging adjacent tougher sanctions.

“Economic unit connected the regime, connected cronies, connected sectors similar oil, potash, steel, wood, fiscal sphere -- this changeless unit volition assistance to divided allies wrong the regime,” she said.

“Any trigger tin happen,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We are listening to the radical connected the ground, what they are prepared for, and impatience of radical is growing, and cipher cognize what tin beryllium the trigger for caller wide demonstrations for autumn of this regime.”


She said astir radical successful the authorities “are not loyal to the regime” but similar astir each Belarusians contiguous they are frightened for themselves, their families and their information due to the fact that arrests and kidnappings proceed to instrumentality place.

Tsikhanouskaya said the menace of sanctions antecedently made Lukashenko merchandise governmental prisoners and halt violence, truthful past tin beryllium repeated, “and we person to enforce galore points of unit connected the regime.”

“Sanctions is not (a) metallic bullet,” she said. “Sanctions volition not bring our state to democracy, but for definite it volition assistance to divided elites successful bid to marque cronies of Lukashenko recognize that Lukashenko’s clip is over."

Tsikhanouskaya said these radical volition person to determine for themselves: “Are they going to beryllium connected this sinking vessel oregon articulation civilian nine that wants to physique (a) caller and prosperous, open, transparent Belarus.”

Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania nether unit from Belarus authorities aft the election, said she is successful changeless interaction with the pro-democracy question successful the country.


“We coordinate our actions due to the fact that we person 1 enemy, and we person to enactment multi-points of unit connected the authorities and this is our strategy,” she said.

Tsikhanouskaya said the absorption is undertaking a fig of steps “just to beryllium prepared erstwhile the authorities collapses” including holding a league connected caller elections and moving connected a level for negotiations and connected economical and law reforms.

“Our extremity is caller elections, transparent, nether reflection of planetary observers,” she said. “This is the lone mode retired of (the) situation successful Belarus.”

Tsikhanouskaya said the absorption has called for dialog with representatives of Lukashenko’s regime.

“They besides recognize that determination is nary mode retired from this crisis, lone negotiations,” she said.

While it’s casual to suppress demonstrations, Tsikhanouskaya said, the protests successful which the bulk of Belarusians participated changed people, and it’s intolerable for the authorities to power them now.


“They measurement by measurement proceed to defy and it’s unstoppable,” she said. “They privation to physique a caller Belarus together, and everyone is responsible.”

Tsikhanouskaya, asked astir her safety, said nary Belarusian is harmless astatine the moment.

“But adjacent if 1 time I disappear, the question volition not extremity ... due to the fact that everyone is warring astatine the moment,” she said. “We don’t request leaders of this uprising due to the fact that everyone is the leader.”


Ellen Knickmeyer and Alexandra Jaffe successful Washington and Daria Litvinova successful Moscow contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This worldly whitethorn not beryllium published, broadcast, rewritten oregon redistributed without permission.

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