Is Ukraine moving in Belarus’ direction?
Photo: Berkut riot officers against peaceful demonstrators (UNIAN)
According to the former Speaker of the Belarusian Parliament, Stanislav Shushkevich, Russia and Ukraine are following the Belarusian path. His view is shared by Roman Besmertny, former Ambassador to Belarus (who had, before that, been in the governments formed after the Orange Revolution – translator). The two men compared the situation as the first anniversary approaches of the mass protests against election fraud during the Belarusian presidential elections where the police detained hundreds of protesters.
Mr Shushkevich pointed out that there are presently 14 Amnesty International prisoners of conscience in Belarus. There are, he says, far more political prisoners.
“The most important question for us is the release of political prisoners. The President of Belarus is basically in prison. This is one of two people – either Andrei Sannikov or Vladimir Neklyaev. I can’t say exactly who. Sannikov is in harsh conditions in prison, Neklyaev under house arrest. These are people who even before the end of the elections were beaten and mistreated. And after this they dispersed a peaceful demonstration in protest. Then more people came out than in Ukraine on Maidan [Nezalezhnosti – Independence Square in Kyiv; also more figurative onto the squares in protest – translator). The regime in Belarus is anti-people.”
Stanislav Shushkevich does not call the situation in Ukraine similar to that in Belarus, however it is clear to him that both Russia and Ukraine are moved in the direction of political “Belarusification” [his term).
Roman Besmertny agrees and calls the human rights situation in the country “very bad”. He, however, says that the situation with political prisoners is beginning to be reminiscent of that in Belarus. He says that the trend is in that direction. “And that’s not to mention the use of the courts to settle political scores, as with Yulia Tymoshenko, Yury Lutsenko and many other political prisoners”.
Belarusians in Europe are planning various measures to draw attention as the anniversary approaches to the situation in Belarus. There will be solidarity protests in Kyiv, Vilnius, Warsaw, London, Amsterdam, the Hague, Paris, Prague and Tallinn.