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S&Ds call for increased support for democratic forces of Belarus and stronger EU sanctions against Lukashenka regime


13 Sep 2023


Global Europe

Tomorrow, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, head of the United Transitional Cabinet set up by the democratic forces of Belarus, will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg to mark the three-year anniversary since the massively falsified presidential election in Belarus.

After her speech, the Socialists and Democrats will vote in favour of the European Parliament resolution strongly condemning the Lukashenka regime’s increasingly ruthless repression of the people of Belarus and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all 1,500 political prisoners and all other persons arbitrarily detained.

In addition to this, on Wednesday, the S&D Group will welcome Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a special guest during their group meeting. The same day, S&D MEP Juozas Olekas, head of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Belarus will chair the 2023 edition of the ‘Kalinouski Conference’ in Strasbourg. This conference brings together representatives of the democratic forces and civil society of Belarus. You can follow it online from 14:00 to 18:00 here.

At 18:30 on Wednesday, there will be an exhibition on Belarusian political prisoners, co-sponsored by the S&D Group, in the European Parliament in the WIC area. The exhibition ‘Belarusian martyrology - political prisoners in Belarus’ invites visitors to get acquainted with the life stories, portraits and voices of the people who chose democracy over dictatorship. Belarusian artist Xisha Aniolowa started creating portraits of political prisoners in 2020. She has continued this work until now and her collection contains over 600 works.

Juozas Olekas, S&D MEP and chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Belarus, said:

“We commend the brave people of Belarus, who have resisted systematic repression by the Lukashenka regime for years now and still found the resolve to stand up to the regime’s complicity in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU and its partners should initiate legal proceedings against all members of Lukashenka’s regime who are responsible for the massive and systematic human rights violations.

“The Kalinouski Conference will bring together representatives of the democratic forces and civil society of Belarus that have been brutally repressed by the dictatorship. I hope it will serve as a forum for Belarusian democratic forces to strengthen their cooperation and to discuss the development of the country after the inevitable fall of Lukashenka’s regime. We, European partners, expect a strong commitment to common European values, human rights and the rule of law.

“We condemn the recent decision of Lukashenka's regime to stop issuing new ID documents for Belarusians in the embassies and the consulates. We urge the EU member states to grant international recognition for the national passport of Belarus, which is to be issued by the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus."

Thijs Reuten, S&D shadow rapporteur for Belarus and negotiator of the resolution, added:

“1,500 political prisoners, the last remainders of political opposition within the country squashed and more than 2,000 Ukrainian children abducted to Belarus – these gruesome facts show the sorrowful reality in Belarus. Like many Belarusians in and outside the country, we will not give up until Belarus is free and democratic.

“The latest attempt to get many of Lukashenka’s cronies delisted from the sanctions list has been thwarted, but more must be done. In order to acknowledge the Lukashenka regime's complicity in Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU must impose comparable sanctions on Belarus as it has done on Russia. Such measures would also act as a deterrent against any attempts to bypass the sanctions.”

Note to editors:

The S&D Group has invited representatives of Belarusian Social Democrats in exile to join the events in Strasbourg. These include Ihar Barysau, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada (BSDP Hramada), and Evgeyj Vilski, acting president of the Narodnay Hramada party.


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