Tag Archives: belarus

World Review: Strange bedfellows in France, Ukraine, Roe v. Wade and Belarus

French politics have been thrown into confusion with an unprecedented “Stop Macron” alliance of the left for next month’s parliamentary elections. The  concordat has been forged by France’s elder statesman of the Left, Jean-luc Melenchon who just missed being included in last month’s presidential run-offs. He has persuaded the Communists, Greens and Socialists to join his France Insoumise (LFI, France Unbowed), to stop Macron’s pro-business, pro-EU legislative agenda. But Melenchon’s pre-election coalition does not spell a foregone victorious conclusion for the French Left. The latest opinion polls show a three-way split between the left-wing alliance, Macron’s La Republique en Marche and the right of centre conservatives and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally.

The Socialists and Melenchon make strange bedfellows with opposing views on the EU and NATO membership. They do, however, agree on the bread and butter issues of lowering the retirement age, raising the minimum age and capping prices on essential products. On the other end of the political spectrum, it is uncertain whether the Republicans will support Macron or Le Pen in the new National Assembly. The political map is further complicated by France’s two-round electoral assembly which appears to give Macron’s party a slight advantage in the run-off vote on 19 June. The only thing that is clear at the moment is that the National Assembly elections are making life complicated for the newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and the results may make his second term very difficult.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Observations of an Expat: Two Step… One Step

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is indulging in that well-known two step, one step diplomatic dance. That is two steps forward. One step back.

Sometimes he throws his fellow Europeans off balance by taking a third step and half a step back, or he may refuse to move from his new position.

He prods and pushes, establishing new boundaries both physical and political. Using strategies developed as a high-flying KGB agent, Putin simply denies everything. It is all Western “balderdash,” he claims.

Belarus is a Russian satellite. Its Soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko would hardly dare breathe without first seeking the approval of his Moscow mentor.

One of Putin’s main aims is to destabilise the EU. And it is no secret that the issue of migrant refugees from the Islamic world is a divisive and destabilising issue. The East European Visegrad 4 (which include Poland) are especially against it. So Lukashenko sent agents off to Syria, Turkey and Iraq to recruit thousands of refugees to press against the Polish border fence.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Observations of an Expat: Belarus and State Sponsored Human Trafficking

Up to 20,000 Middle Eastern refugees are stuck in a narrow strip of no-man’s land as winter descends upon them. To the west—the dreamed of destination—is a razor wire fence and armed Polish guards. To the east are tens of thousands of armed Belarussian troops to prevent them from going back into Belarus proper.

These refugees have paid thousands of dollars to the agents of Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko who are scouring the Middle East in search of displaced persons in search of a better life in Europe.

They collect their money. Tell them they are going to the promised land of Germany. The refugees are then put on flights to Minsk from Damascus, Dubai or Istanbul. In the Belarussian capital they are met by armed guards who herd them into lorries that transport them to the border with Poland, Latvia or Lithuania. They are unloaded and told to march west. That is when the dream becomes a nightmare.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Observations of an Expat: Russian Pivot

While the world public’s attention was focused on submarine rows between allies and the rising Chinese threat, Vladimir Putin was making disturbing diplomatic and political moves to change the security map on the European side of the Eurasian land mass.

The focus of Putin’s efforts is Belarus and the faltering regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Ever since his clearly fraudulent elections, “Europe’s last dictator” has suffered riots, demonstrations, defecting Belarussians and Western sanctions. All of this presents opportunities and problems for Vladimir Putin and headaches for everyone else. A Lukashenko/Putin summit plus a major military manoeuvre underscored both.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

United with Belarus

I come originally from the South-East part of Poland. I was 10 when the Berlin Wall collapsed and I must admit that I didn’t grasp the importance of these historical events, for my native country as well as the whole of Europe. I discovered its significance later on.

In the last couple of weeks, I was reflecting on the journey of each one of the countries behind the “Iron Curtain”. Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic – they all did well and it is clear that a massive democratic transformation served them and their residents well.

However, there is one country, also a former Soviet Union republic, which has been struggling since 1990’s and which brought international attention for all the wrong reasons. Plane hijacked, which simply equals an act of terrorism, imprisonment of opposition leaders or ordinary members of the public, often as young as 14-15 year olds, lack of free speech, economical progress and recovery or inability to peaceful demonstrations; the list goes on. While completing my Master’s Degree in History, I had an opportunity to meet many people from Belarus, who were studying in my home town, Lublin. I often wonder in these situations whether there is anything I should be doing to help. But what, and more importantly how could I do that?

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 2 Comments

Observations of an Expat: The Alex Problem

Often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, Belarussia’s Alexander Lukashenko can blatantly break international law with an act of air piracy and kidnapping because he thinks he can get away with it. He feels politically secure.

He feels secure because he has total backing from Russia’s Vladimir Putin who regards the maintenance of a pro-Russian Belarus as vital to Russia’s national interests. And because he knows that the rest of the world—especially the European Union—is frightened of stepping on the toes of the Russian bear.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Roman Protasevich abduction – time for Britain to act?

The criminal hijacking of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, with a Belarussian anti-government activist on board has led to calls from across Europe and beyond for firm action to be taken against the Belarus Government led by Alexander Lukashenko, whose agents advised the flight crew that there was a bomb onboard, and then seized Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, whilst the plane was on the ground in Minsk.

Layla Moran was quick to call upon Dominic Raab to respond;

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, in advance of today’s European Council meeting, demanded;

  • The immediate release

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

Crisis in Belarus and possible EU and UK policy response

#Живёт Беларусь – two words that are the rallying cry for what appears to be a tipping point for the Lukashenko regime with mass strikes at factories, schools, TV anchors resigning and signs that security forces are refusing to follow orders or resigning. Despite the repeat of the Lukashenko play book of arresting or brute elimination of opposition figures, the country coalesced around an unlikely figure in the form of a quiet housewife who has fired up the imagination and bamboozled the regime. It is also a test of how the West, the EU and most notably the UK in …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 8 Comments

Filmmaker shows the sinister and, sometimes, bizarre reality of life under dictators

I thoroughly recommend the TV series “Dictatorland”, which is going out on BBC Three at the moment. You can watch the episodes as they are published on BBC iPlayer. Young journalist and filmmaker Benjamin Zand travelled, at some risk to him and his crew, to a number of countries which still have dictatorships.

Posted in TV and film | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience

 

President Lukashenko of Belarus has enjoyed twenty-two years in power, achieved through a specific method of counting of votes, and has often been referred to as the last dictator in Europe.

Following his annual state-of-the-union address 2015, President Lukashenko has said that Jews in Belarus should be taken “under control”. All this occurred in the presence of foreign ambassadors, including the Ambassador of Britain, but excluding the US ambassador, because the Belarusian dictator expelled the US ambassador from the country many years ago.

The reaction of the Conservative government on this Belarusian leader’s statement was not long in coming. At the beginning of 2016 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office called for the lifting of EU sanctions against the Belarusian dictator, with “full compliance” of the 2010 Conservative statement on the basic values of foreign policy:

We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Liberal Youth make some noise for human rights

Last week, on a cold December afternoon Liberal Youth continued their campaign for human rights in Belarus, a country often described as “Europe’s Last Dictatorship”. We were joined by the Free Belarus Now group, lead by Irina Bogdanova (sister of an ex-Presidential candidate) in a demonstration outside the Belarusian embassy in London.

The event was called “Make Some Noise for Human Rights” with Liberal Youth members bringing everything from drums to violins. We need to raise awareness of the situation in Belarus and what better way than being loud enough so people have to take notice of us!

Since 1994, Alexander …

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Liberal Youth: It’s time to think about Freshers

As the academic year draws to a close, most young people are thinking about the summer ahead – not us though. At Liberal Youth we’re already planning for the next academic year and we want this year’s Freshers (the inaugural party / join-a-society week at the start of the academic term) to be the one that puts us back on the map.

The Freshers period is incredibly important to our organisation, more so now than ever. We’re not naive, we know the Liberal Democrats’ reputation on campus isn’t the same as it was a few years ago, but we’re working hard …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – We must stand up to this tyranny on our doorstep

Nick Clegg – currently in Poland representing the UK at the EU Eastern Partnership summit – has an op-ed in today’s Independent arguing that more must be done to topple Europe’s last dictator in Belarus. As well as his column, the deputy prime minister will also speak to the people of Belarus over the airwaves via European Radio for Belarus and meet with dissidents and democracy campaigners while in Warsaw.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Imagine a country where torture and intimidation are reportedly common place. Where peaceful protesters are locked up – sent to maximum security prison colonies – and

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Opinion: The struggle for democracy persists in Europe, not just the Middle East

In December last year, Alyaksandr Lukashenka was re-elected president of Belarus, with 79.7% of the vote in elections deemed to fall massively short of OSCE standards. Under his leadership, the Belarusian regime systematically violates basic liberties. The past week has seen a worsening of the situation, with the oppressive regime using unjustifiable violence against protesters seeking democracy and freedom.

Despite a ban on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, in an attempt to try and stifle the protests, the capital Minsk has seen huge anti-Lukashenka demonstrations. The response of the Belarusian Government has been appalling. Hundreds of peaceful protesters have been …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Massimo Ricciuti
    Thank you, Mary. Very interesting article!...
  • Peter Martin
    sorry. Meant to add this. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/feb/15/eu-parcel-problems-since-brexit-prompt-flood-of-complaints...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Martin et al, Of course both sides of the Brexit debate have always been in favour of a healthy trade relationship between the EU and the UK. A FTA agreeme...
  • Barry Lofty
    I have made my feelings about the disastrous Brexit vote on this site many times and on this occasion can only add my support to the words of Lord Wallace, Mart...
  • Martin
    Peter Martin: I really did not expect you to be so ignorant of the situation. After the Brexit result, EU countries started to prepare for Brexit. The UK did...