The violent suppression of the protests in Belarus is heading for a new escalation. The Interior Ministry has now allowed the use of lethal weapons.
The club was already loose, soon the gun too? Demonstration in Minsk on October 11th Photo: Natalia Fedosenko / Itar Tass / imago
MINSKafp | The police in Belarus threatened the demonstrators against the head of state Alexander Lukashenko with the use of firearms. The security forces would not give way to the demonstrators in the streets “and if necessary use special equipment and lethal weapons”, it said in a statement published on Monday in the messenger service Telegram by the Interior Ministry in Minsk.
More stories about life in Belarus: In the “Diary from Minsk” column, Janka Belarus and Olga Deksnis report on stormy times – in German and in Russian.
Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, a broad protest movement in Belarus has called for Lukashenko’s resignation. The opposition accuses the head of state, who has been in power for 26 years, of electoral fraud.
The Belarusian security forces use force against the demonstrators. So far, they have mainly used water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades against the people demonstrating peacefully. On Sunday, they arrested more than 700 people nationwide, the Interior Ministry announced.
Because of the ongoing violence against demonstrators in Belarus, the EU foreign ministers launched sanctions against Head of State Alexander Lukashenko on Monday. Previously, sanctions were imposed on 40 people responsible. Among them are Interior Minister Juri Karaeu, members of the state election commission, the secret service KGB and the special forces Omon and SOBR.
Lukashenko visits political prisoners in custody to discuss ways out of the crisis. After that everything is as always: protest and police violence.
Police roadblock in Minsk, Sunday Photo: AP
KIEVtaz | “At first I thought that the photo that Alexander Lukashenko shows in a KGB prison in conversation with a dozen prisoners of the opposition was a fake,” said Irina Krawez from the Belarusian human rights organization Nasch Dom (Our House) by telephone to the taz.
But the ruler of Belarus really did meet with leaders imprisoned in the opposition on Saturday. The pictures of the completely unexpected meeting show Lukashenko, dressed entirely in black, who, like a lecturer, talks to a group of people who don’t seem to really know what’s going on.
The Belarusian state news agency belta.by reported that the conversation lasted four and a half hours. The agency does not want to disclose anything about the content. A 60-second video shows a Lukashenko describing the importance of constitutional reform.
Among the twelve present, besides Lukashenko, were the imprisoned bank manager Viktor Babariko and his companions. Also on Saturday, the exiled Svetlana Tichanovskaya was allowed to telephone her imprisoned husband Sergej for the first time in four months.
“Lukashenko just wants to make an impression”
You shouldn’t be impressed by this conversation, warns Irina Krawez to the taz. “Lukashenko only does this because he wants to make an impression on foreign countries and his small following. What makes me happy is that he noticed that he was trapped. And this forces him to take very unusual steps. “
After all, says the human rights activist, he talked about the future of the country with people whom he had recently described as criminals. Since Lukashenko spoke mainly to people from Babariko’s circle, she suspects that he wants a compromise with the part of the opposition that Babariko is assigned to. “But if Babariko gets involved, he’s no longer one of us,” she warns.
Other voices are also dominated by skepticism. With this meeting, Lukashenko sought support for his idea of constitutional reform, says the director of the EAST research center, Andrei Eliseyev.
Belarusian political scientist Artjem Schraibman comments on his Telegram channel who is firmly in the saddle does not need to negotiate with alleged criminals.
Russian political scientist Maxim Kaz analyzes that this is not an equal dialogue: on the one hand political prisoners and on the other hand the man who decides whether his counterparts will see the next day.
Andrei Kazakayevich, director of the Political Institute Political Sphere, sees the “historical event” in a positive light. “In fact, those in power have admitted that there is a political force without which an announced political reform cannot be implemented,” Kazakajewitsch told the Naviny.by portal.
Again mass protests in Minsk
Lukashenko’s new thoughtfulness, which he had displayed on Saturday during his conversation with the political prisoners in the KGB prison, was no longer noticeable on Sunday when tens of thousands again took to the streets against “former President Alexander Lukashenko” – over 100,000 in Minsk alone, reports activist Alexandra Kondratiewa of the taz.
Numerous Russian and local journalists, according to Kondratieva, were arrested during the demonstration. The activist said on the phone that groups of black-clad men hunted demonstrators.
Water cannons, which sprayed orange-colored water, were also used. The internet portal tut.by reports of head injuries sustained by demonstrators from the police.
The Sunday protests in Ostrowez not far from the Lithuanian border had a regional focus. Hundreds of residents are protesting against the new nuclear power plant, where the first controlled chain reaction was initiated on Friday.
The reprisals also continue. On Friday, the Gomel journalist Alexander Velitschenko was sentenced to 10 days’ arrest. Also on Friday, the editor-in-chief of the Starke Nachrichten portal, Anna Jakschtas, was arrested in Gomel. The environmental activist and head of the eco house, Marina Dubina, had already been sentenced to thirteen days of arrest on Thursday.
Are Europeans showing that they can react firmly when a third country goes too far? In any case, this is the message that the EU foreign ministers wanted to send to the Belarusian authorities, who were, for the first time in months, meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
Forty regime officials – including the Minister of the Interior and his deputy – had already been sanctioned ten days ago, in the wake of the last European Council, because of their involvement in the repression and rigging of the presidential election August 9. As the crackdown grows, ministers have chosen to step up a gear. According to the political agreement that was found in Luxembourg, the list of those sanctioned will be extended to other officials including Alexander Lukashenko in person. He will be persona non grata on EU territory and his assets will be frozen.
The Twenty-Seven had initially chosen to spare the Belarusian president so as not to compromise a possible beginning of dialogue between the authorities and the opponents. But, “authorities reject OSCE dialogue and mission“, Explained the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, while pointing out the repressions which Minsk was again the theater at the end of the week and during which”the government reacted disproportionately». “Nothing has improved in Belarus. The violence of the Lukashenko regime and the arrest of peaceful demonstrators continue ”, had regretted, a few hours earlier, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas.
Europeans want to coordinate both to show solidarity with Poles and Lithuanians and to continue supporting civil society
A European source
According to the human rights NGO Viasna, no less than 600 opponents were arrested on Sunday alone, even though the day before, Lukashenko, had curiously chosen to go to a prison to dialogue for four hours. with “protesters”, thus blowing hot and cold.
The EU has also decided to reduce bilateral cooperation with the Belarusian authorities. “The Europeans want to coordinate both to show solidarity with the Poles and Lithuanians, who have been forced to reduce their diplomatic presence there, and to continue supporting civil society by maintaining a diplomatic and consular presence. “, confides a European source.
At this stage, the announcement of forthcoming sanctions against Lukashenko has hardly softened Belarusian power, the legitimacy of which the Europeans, moreover, do not recognize. Quite the contrary. Shortly after the end of the Luxembourg meeting, the Belarusian Interior Ministry announced its intention to appeal “if necessary” to live ammunition. “The demonstrations, which mainly moved to Minsk, have become organized and extremely radical”, specified a press release.
Be that as it may, the Europeans have shown speed this time. The same applies to the new Russian sanctions, in response to the poisoning of the opponent Alexeï Navalny. As France and Germany wished, the Twenty-Seven gave the green light. It remains to finalize the list, expected in the coming days.
MINSK, October 14 – RIA Novosti. Belarusian political scientist and associate of the former presidential contender Viktor Babariko Yury Voskresensky revealed the details of the meeting of the head of state Alexandra Lukashenko with representatives of the opposition in the KGB pre-trial detention center, held at the end of last week.On Saturday, Lukashenka held a meeting in the KGB pre-trial detention center with opposition representatives who were detained during and after the presidential campaign and have since been detained in various in pre-trial detention centers, discussed constitutional issues with them. According to him, during a meeting with the opposition, Lukashenka said that he wanted to hear everyone: their opinions and proposals regarding the country’s further development. “Now they write that there was allegedly a monologue there. absolute dialogue. Basically we spoke, and th they stole absolutely freely, including on the topic of amendments to the Constitution, “Voskresensky said. The Belarusian opposition insists on a constitutional reform, has repeatedly stated that it wants to return to the 1994 constitution of the republic, in order, in particular, to limit the number of presidential terms in the country for The list of participants in the meeting with the president was not officially announced, but from the footage shown later on television, it is clear that it was attended by political strategist Vitaly Shklyarov, former chairman of the board of Belgazprombank, ex-presidential contender Belarus Viktor Babariko and his son Eduard, members of the Presidium of the Opposition Coordination Council Lilia Vlasova and Maxim Znak and others. After the presidential elections on August 9, which, according to the CEC, Lukashenko won for the sixth time, to Belarus These began mass protests. Against the backdrop of these actions, Lukashenka said that if the Belarusians want reforms, the authorities will start them tomorrow. After that, work on an updated version of the constitution was intensified in the republic. So, Lukashenka announced that her draft would be submitted for public discussion before the referendum. As the head of state noted, the third version of the draft constitution is being prepared, since the two previous ones did not suit him. Last Friday, the head of state said that the Belarusians would be reported on the progress of work on the basic law at the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly.
maxim sign, viktor babariko, alexander lukashenko, Belarus, in the world
MINSK, Oct 14 – RIA Novosti. Yury Voskresensky, a Belarusian political scientist and associate of ex-presidential contender Viktor Babariko, revealed the details of the meeting of the head of state Alexander Lukashenko with representatives of the opposition in the KGB jail, which took place at the end of last week.
On Saturday, Lukashenko held a meeting in the KGB pre-trial detention center with opposition representatives who were detained during and after the presidential campaign and have since been detained in various pre-trial detention centers, discussed constitutional issues with them.
“Everything was voluntary. Until the last second, until the president entered, no one knew what would happen. When the president entered, he said that the trigger of his visit to the pre-trial detention center – as it is now fashionable to say – was Marat Markov’s program” Nothing personal. ” This he decided to fight for each of his citizens, so he gathered the assets in the KGB detention center, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and invited them for a conversation, “Voskresensky said on the ONT TV channel.
According to him, during a meeting with the opposition, Lukashenka said that he wants to hear everyone: their views and proposals regarding the country’s further development.
“Now they write that there was supposedly a monologue. No. There was an absolute dialogue. Basically, we talked, and we spoke absolutely freely, including on the topic of amendments to the Constitution,” Voskresensky said.
October 14, 12:38 PMProtests in Belarus
Media reported that Kolesnikova was not invited to a meeting with Lukashenka in a pre-trial detention center
The Belarusian opposition insists on a constitutional reform, has repeatedly stated that it wants to return to the 1994 constitution of the republic, in order, in particular, to limit the number of presidential terms in the country for one person.
The list of participants in the meeting with the President was not officially announced, however, from the footage shown later on television, it is clear that it was attended by political strategist Vitaly Shklyarov, former chairman of the board of Belgazprombank, ex-contender for the presidency of Belarus Viktor Babariko and his son Eduard, members of the presidium of the coordination opposition council Lilia Vlasova and Maxim Znak and others.
After the presidential elections on August 9, at which, according to the CEC, Lukashenka won for the sixth time, mass protests began in Belarus. Against the backdrop of these actions, Lukashenka said that if the Belarusians want reforms, the authorities will start them tomorrow. After that, work on an updated version of the constitution was intensified in the republic. So, Lukashenka announced that her draft would be submitted for public discussion before the referendum. As the head of state noted, the third version of the draft constitution is being prepared, since the two previous ones did not suit him. Last Friday, the head of state said that the Belarusians would be reported on the progress of work on the basic law at the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly.
October 13, 01:39 PMProtests in Belarus
Another member of the Presidium of the Constitutional Court of the Belarusian opposition left the country
In Belarus, the ruler Alexander Lukashenko met with several prisoners of the opposition and members of the Coordination Council. The conversation in the remand prison of the KGB secret service lasted four and a half hours, reported the Telegram channel “Pul Pervogo”, which is affiliated with the Belarusian state television, on Saturday. Possible changes to the constitution were discussed, as reported by the opposition portal “Nexta”.
Opposition representatives later criticized it was absurd to hold round table talks in prison. The most prominent opposition participant at the meeting was the bank manager and politician Viktor Babariko. The 56-year-old wanted to run against Lukashenko in the presidential election, but ended up in jail before the election campaign could really start. A photo published by the state-owned channel “Pul Pervogo” shows Lukashenko in a dark sweater discussing with the opposition at an oval table decorated with flowers. Silence had been agreed on the content, it said.
In Belarus, people have been protesting against Lukashenko on a regular basis since the controversial presidential election in early August. The ruler, who has been in power for more than a quarter of a century, claims the election victory after the polls at the beginning of August with a result of more than 80 percent. The EU does not recognize the election result. The opposition in Belarus sees Svetlana Tichanovskaya as the true winner. The “Pul Pervogo” channel initially only broadcast a short excerpt from the meeting. “Our country lives under the slogan of readiness for dialogue,” said Lukashenko, who had refused to talk to the opposition since the controversial presidential election. “Half of you here are lawyers and know that the constitution is not written on the street.” He tries to convince the supporters of the opposition and the whole of Belarusian society that we have to “look at the problem more broadly”.
Lukashenko speaks of “willingness to dialogue”
Opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya assessed Lukashenko’s appearance in the KGB prison as the result of growing social pressure on the ruler. At the meeting, Lukashenko admitted that the opposition members, whom he had previously described as criminals, were political prisoners. “You don’t have a dialogue in a prison cell.” If Lukashenko wanted to show a willingness to enter into dialogue, he would have released the opposition, Tichanovskaya said. Sergei Latuschko from the Coordinating Council said a round table in the detention center was “absurd”.
The 38-year-old Tichanovskaya was allowed to call her husband, blogger Sergei Tichanowski, who is critical of the government, on Saturday for the first time since his imprisonment. Tichanowski wanted to run against the ruler Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential election, but he was refused. It was the first conversation in 134 days, Tichanovskaya wrote to Telegram on Saturday. Her husband has been in custody since the end of May. Tichanovskaya ran in his place in the election and was the only opposition member to receive admission. After the presidential election, she fled to Lithuania.
MOSCOW, October 10 – RIA Novosti. TV channel “360” published a fragment of the conversation of the ex-presidential candidate Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with her husband Sergei, who is under arrest. Tikhanovsky, in turn, asked his wife about the support from the President France Emmanuel Macron and the Chancellor FRG Angela Merkel . “Good people, support us. & Lt; … & gt; They believe in our victory,” Svetlana replied. Sergei Tikhanovsky planned to run for President of Belarus, but could not sign the necessary documents, as he was serving an administrative arrest. As a result, the opposition nominated his wife Svetlana to run in the elections. The Investigative Committee of Belarus opened a case against Tikhanovsky about organizing mass riots and calling for violence against police officers. According to the “Viasna” human rights center, which is not registered by the authorities, a criminal case was also opened against Sergei about obstruction of the elections. Tikhanovsky is being held in a pre-trial detention center in the city of Zhodino. The situation in Belarus Mass protests in Belarus began after the presidential elections, which took place on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission, Alyaksandr Lukashenka won them for the sixth time: he gained 80.1% of the votes. The second place was taken by Tikhanovskaya, the opposition did not agree with the election results. After that, on the initiative of Tikhanovskaya, the country created a Coordination Council (CC) for the transit of power in the republic. In this regard, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus opened a criminal case on calls to seize power. Now six out of seven members of the Constitutional Court Presidium are arrested or are abroad. Tikhanovskaya herself left for Lithuania for security reasons. Subsequently, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs also included Tikhanovskaya in the database of wanted persons Read all news from Belarus on the website Sputnik Belarus & gt; & gt;
alexander lukashenko, belarus, lithuania, svetlana tikhanovskaya, emmanuel macron, cc of belarus, angela merkel
MOSCOW, Oct 10 – RIA Novosti. The TV channel “360” published a fragment of a conversation between ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her husband Sergei, who is under arrest.
“We are doing everything possible so that you all get out as soon as possible. <...> We are doing everything necessary to change the situation in the republic. <...> We cannot retreat, <...> until we achieve new elections,” she told her husband.
A fragment of a conversation between Svetlana and Sergei Tikhanovsky appeared on the Web.
– We must somehow be tougher. – Harder? I am worried about everyone who is in prison so that this does not affect you. But that means we’ll be tougher. pic.twitter.com/Hr3uGbLNfy
Tikhanovsky, in turn, asked his wife about support from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Good people, support us. <...> They believe in our victory,” Svetlana replied.
October 8, 10:36 PM
Unknown person posed as Tikhanovskaya at a meeting of the Danish parliament
Sergei Tikhanovsky planned to run for president of Belarus, but was unable to sign the necessary documents, as he was serving an administrative arrest. As a result, the opposition nominated his wife Svetlana to run in the elections.
The Investigative Committee of Belarus opened a case against Tikhanovsky for organizing riots and calls for violence against police officers. According to the “Viasna” human rights center, which is not registered by the authorities, a criminal case was also opened against Sergei about obstruction of the elections. Tikhanovsky is being held in a pre-trial detention center in Zhodino.
The situation in Belarus
Mass protests in Belarus began after the presidential elections, which took place on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission, Alyaksandr Lukashenka won them for the sixth time: he gained 80.1% of the votes. The second place was taken by Tikhanovskaya, the opposition did not agree with the results of the elections.
After that, on the initiative of Tikhanovskaya, a Coordination Council (CC) was created in the country for the transit of power in the republic. In this regard, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus opened a criminal case on calls to seize power. Now six out of seven members of the Constitutional Court Presidium are arrested or are abroad. Tikhanovskaya herself left for Lithuania for security reasons.
Subsequently, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs also included Tikhanovskaya in the database of wanted persons.
Read all the news of Belarus on the websiteSputnik Belarus >>
October 5, 07:59 PM
“To understand.” Tikhanovskaya clarified why she wants to meet with Putin
The Belarusian opposition leader Tichanovskaya does not expect the ruler Lukashenko to negotiate. She hopes for Europe as a mediator.
Europe should help bring the different forces together, says Svetlana Tichanovskaya Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa
taz: Ms. Tichanowskaja, how would you like to be addressed? As Mrs. Tichanowskaja or as Mrs. President?
Swetlana Tichanowskaja: I avoid calling myself president, people refer to me as a popularly elected president. I see myself both as the leader of a democratic Belarus and as a national symbol. Because we do not have any precise details in percent of the actual results of the elections.
Many are surprised by the persistence and perseverance of the Belarusians. People have been taking to the streets for almost two months …
The people are finally tired of this regime, that is a very important aspect. In addition, the Internet now plays a central role. The whole world finds out what is happening here on YouTube. It was different with the protests after the 2010 presidential election. The internet wasn’t that widespread then. The protests were put down and many abroad were not aware of them at all. The internet has now also piqued the interest of our neighbors. You can see how violent the regime is, while our protests are peaceful. We want it to stay that way.
38 years old, is a teacher with a focus on German and English. On August 9, 2020, she ran as the opposition candidate in the Belarusian presidential election. She currently lives in exile with her children in Vilnius / Lithuania.
Will the protests continue?
Definitely, even if it starts to snow. The protest is not only expressed in demonstrations. There are also other forms, just as the partisans used to operate underground. These are, for example, strikes or the fact that people meet in the backyards of apartment blocks and slowly grow together. All are now united in the will that Lukashenko has to go. Because we no longer want to be slaves to this system. People are now proud to be Belarusians, to make history and to have the chance to make their country better. Therefore, they will keep fighting for a peaceful future.
In one of her books, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksijewitsch writes that war has a female face. Do the protests in Belarus also have a predominantly female face?
Yes, because the women have realized that they cannot abandon the country. In the beginning, three women led this movement. During the protests, it was mainly men who were arrested and abused. Women have not been approached to this extent and have the role of protectors, as paradoxical as that may sound. Then the security forces crossed that red line and started arresting women. But society has become more feminist, a kind of feminist movement has emerged, and that will remain.
Who are the security forces who use such force against the protesters? It is said that quite a few of them speak Russian with a Moscow accent. In other words: are the Russians there yet?
Nobody can say for sure, they are completely masked. We can only speculate that Russians are among these forces.
To what extent are the security forces and the military still supporting Lukashenko at all?
I would not speak of support in the strict sense here. In truth, this so-called support is based on fear. They are in an even more difficult position than normal people who now dare to express their opinion freely. But these security forces are also people. There are many among them who do not want to act like this, but the circumstances force them to do so. Many are now on our side, but they don’t say that out loud. Your turning away from the regime is obvious, even if it is only progressing in small steps, but the process is ongoing.
You advocate negotiations and dialogue in order to get new elections. Could you imagine Alexander Lukashenko taking a seat at a round table?
He would never do that himself. Negotiating with someone would be beneath their dignity. He always decided everything himself. On the other hand, I can imagine government representatives.
Has anyone called you from the Kremlin?
If you had the opportunity to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, what would you say or ask him?
Maybe I’m still a little naive, I was somehow thrown into this world of politics, with pure intentions and pure soul, and was not at all familiar with how it all works. But I still believe that you can sit down and talk to each other. I would say: Mr Putin, I understand that Mr Lukashenko is very convenient for you as President. But we, we are an independent sovereign country. We are friends with you and this friendship will last. But we want another president, one who works not for himself but for the good of the country and the people. But that will not change anything in our relations with Russia. I would also ask him about the Russian journalists who are now working for us. They spread pure propaganda and pour filth on us. That is meddling in our political crisis and it must not be. In general, I am against any kind of external interference and I will continue to hold this opinion.
You are currently meeting with many leading Western politicians. Doesn’t that encourage Lukashenko and Russian propaganda that the Belarusian protest movement is being controlled by the West?
I can only say: we are not steered or controlled by anyone. If Lukashenko claims such a thing, it only shows that he does not understand his compatriots and also no longer realizes what is going on around him.
More stories about life in Belarus: In the “Diary from Minsk” column, Janka Belarus and Olga Deksnis report on stormy times – in German and in Russian.
Recently, Brussels imposed sanctions on official representatives of the Belarusian regime. Do you think that is a sensible measure?
Yes, but the sanctions list is very short and should definitely be expanded. However, I also understand a certain reluctance on the part of Europe, also with regard to Russia.
What do you expect from Europe now?
What we need now are negotiations to bring the forces here to one table. But we cannot do this alone; Europe has to help us, as a kind of mediator. I could imagine the OSCE as a platform. However, it is not about Europe telling us what to do. That is why this help does not constitute interference for me. And anyway: Standing up for human rights is not interference.
During your visit to Berlin you were also at the wall. What was going through your head?
At that time I looked at photos of the people standing on the wall with great enthusiasm. It was a very moving moment for me. I have the feeling that we Belarusians are now standing on the wall too. And we also want to tear down our wall.
Svetlana Tichanovskaya has no time. She has just been answering questions from international journalists, and Angela Merkel will receive her at the Chancellery in a few hours. In between there are meetings with almost all parties in the Bundestag. Christian Lindner’s office just got in touch with your employee. The FDP boss would also like to have an appointment. The woman from Belarus, who the world has been looking at for a few weeks, should hurry up. “I know I’m wasting time now,” she says, but she wants to think about the question first.
Doesn’t she miss large demonstrations of solidarity in Germany for the people who take to the streets in Belarus for their freedom? “Of course it would be nice if the Germans took to the streets and showed their solidarity,” says Tichanowskaja thoughtfully. Perhaps the Germans would primarily see the pictures of happy demonstrators on Belarusian streets and “perhaps they would not understand why they should support them”. The brutality of the regime may not be sufficiently recognized.
That is exactly why Tichanowskaja came to Berlin for three days from her exile in Vilnius. After the fraudulent presidential election in August, she had bet that the huge Belarusian protest movement would sweep away Alexander Lukashenko’s rule. She is now convinced that the mass demonstrations alone will not bring the regime down. “Only internal and external pressure will make a difference,” she says.
And because that is so, the 38-year-old English translator, who a few months ago was a housewife, accepts what she calls her fate. In Brussels she warned the EU foreign ministers to finally impose sanctions. In Vilnius, she made French President Emmanuel Macron responsible. The woman, who would almost certainly be president without election fraud, does not have much fun confronting those in power. But neither is fear.
In Berlin, where she is for the first time in her life, Tichanowskaja first looked at the rest of the Berlin Wall. And “surprised and delighted” found that a piece of it had been painted red and white, in the colors of Belarus. She was shown a photo, Tichanovskaya reports, showing East Germans on the wall before it was torn down. “I saw joy in the eyes of these people. It was like in Belarus,” says Tichanovskaya, where everything is about to change. We are standing on this wall and will tear it down. “
Tichanovskaya calls the meeting with Merkel an “honor”. She doesn’t know anyone who would turn down the invitation of “one of the most powerful women politicians in the world”, with one exception, of course. She means Alexander Lukashenko, who has so far refused to even take a phone call from the Chancellor. “Our country needs help. It needs mediation,” says Tichanovskaya. Merkel’s support is therefore “extremely helpful”. Merkel wants to help when she can. “When you see the courage shown by women on the streets for a free life free from corruption, then I can only say: I admire that,” she recently said in the Bundestag.
The German ambassador left Minsk on Tuesday “to hold talks in Berlin”. Germany has thus followed the example of Poland and Lithuania and is increasing diplomatic pressure. The question now is what Merkel can still do. Because Cyprus wanted to extort punishment against Turkey in the dispute over Mediterranean drilling, the European Union had needed weeks to at least impose entry bans and account freezes on 40 of Lukashenko’s people. “We are grateful for the sanctions and see them as our victory,” says Tichanovskaya diplomatically. The list must be expanded, for example, to include Russian journalists who have taken the place of Belarusians to carry out propaganda for Lukashenko.
In principle, however, Tichanovskaya agrees to leave it with entry bans and account freezes. Such sanctions are perhaps only symbolic, but they show that “our neighbors are not indifferent to our country’s problems”. The pressure will get stronger and may have to. “Perhaps in the future, when we see that nothing changes, we will ask for more serious steps,” says Tichanovskaya.
In fact, the opposition leader is now hoping for the power of diplomacy, which is also the concern with which she comes to the Chancellery on Tuesday. Since the “former head of state who still has power” – as Tichanovskaya Lukashenko calls it – does not listen to the people, others have to speak to him, preferably powerful foreign politicians. “I believe that Ms. Merkel can influence other world politicians,” says Tichanowskaja in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. She is thinking specifically of one whose name she doesn’t like to pronounce: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. “He’s important. We understand that.” Tichanovskaya is convinced that Lukashenko would be finished without Russian support and Russian money. It is Putin who has to say to Lukashenko: “Sit down at this negotiating table.”
The opposition leader herself does not know whether this is realistic. Her dealings with Putin and Russia are puzzling, and she is confident enough not to hide it. What she needs, especially from Merkel, she says, is advice. She “is always afraid of not making the right decision. A decision that does not help the Belarusian people.” Perhaps it is right to put out feelers to Russia yourself, but perhaps not. Even her advisors, who have been involved in politics for years, are unsure of this. But the opposition leader is convinced that there need be no break with Russia. “We want to remain friends with Russia, even if Lukashenko leaves,” she says. Her message after the 45-minute conversation with the Chancellor is similar. The protests in Belarus are not a “fight against Russia or Europe”, but a consequence of the crisis in the country itself, she wrote on the news channel Telegram. Your goal now is first of all new elections. She says she doesn’t know whether she’ll stay in politics afterwards. Actually, she, who originally stood in for her imprisoned husband, did not want that. “But who knows,” she says, “when everything is wonderful, there is no fear and you don’t have to fight so much, then it may be easy to be a politician.”
The federal government and the Bundestag reacted quickly. “The German Bundestag does not recognize the results of the presidential elections; they were neither free nor fair, and there were significant deviations from the standards of democratic elections,” said a resolution on the events in Belarus. The “brutal crackdown by the Belarusian militia against leaders and supporters of the opposition” was strongly condemned.
That sounds awfully familiar, but it’s been a while. The decision was taken in February 2011. Even then, President Alexander Lukashenko had bludgeoned protests against manipulation in the December election and had 700 people locked up. After only a few weeks, the European Union imposed entry bans and account freezes against 170 representatives of the regime. The Bundestag promised the “victims of repression every possible financial and legal support”, especially through visas, so that they can get to safety in the European Union.
The Chancellor meets Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who challenged the dictator
Almost ten years later, the regime’s brutality is even more ruthless, but the reaction of Germany and the EU is far less determined. At least that’s what the Greens in the Bundestag lament. Opposition leader Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who was received by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) this Tuesday, had to be promised significantly more support. “We want Germany, like Poland and Lithuania, to do more to provide concrete help to these people locally and in exile,” says Manuel Sarrazin, Eastern European spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag.
Sarrazin refers to an intolerable situation for many people. After all, in Belarus “not only arrests, kidnappings and torture by the country’s authorities are the order of the day”. The regime is also de-registering students who have taken part in the protests, threatening families and relatives or causing problems at work. In 2011, the coalition of the Union and FDP announced that persecuted people from Belarus could “enter the EU without bureaucracy and, if possible, with a visa free of charge”. That must apply again now, demands Sarrazin.
This has met with open ears in the coalition. “We should provide unbureaucratic and low-threshold help,” says Nils Schmid, the SPD’s foreign policy spokesman in the Bundestag. The goal is “concrete help like ten years ago”. That ranges from unbureaucratic visa allocation to financial aid and support for independent media, some of which work from exile. The coalition will now discuss how this can be set off.
In addition to facilitated visa procedures, legal aid must also be provided for the persecuted, medical and psychological help organized and study grants initiated, demands the Green Sarrazin. Structural support for civil society structures “on site and in exile” is also necessary. The federal government has already given assistance to Swetlana Alexijewitsch, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was able to travel to Berlin with a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The French president urged his counterpart in Vilnius to “dispassionate” issues related to the neighborhood.
Special envoy to Vilnius
Emmanuel Macron understands “The aspiration to freedom, peace and security” of the Baltic Republics after forty-five years under Soviet rule. “Your country, he summed up Monday evening during his press conference with President Gitanas Nauseda, did not have the same XXe century than mine “ and “The post-WWII period lasted a long time there.” However, on the first evening of his visit to Lithuania and Latvia, the French president reaffirmed his wish to “Work with Russia”. A year ago, the three Baltic republics gave a cold reception to his plan to establish a “Strategic dialogue” with the Kremlin. But the French president, who came to report to his hosts on this so far unsuccessful approach, does not intend to give it up. “The other, he told them, can always improve. “
This visit, the first by a French president since that of Jacques Chirac in 2001, takes place in an atmosphere un
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