On January 6 a meeting of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with representatives of the civil society of Belarus was held in the US Department of State.
Among the participants of the meeting were the leader of “We Remember” civil initiative Iryna Krasouskaya, the Belarus Free Theatre director Natalya Kalyada and representatives of the Belarusian expat community in the US: a lawyer Alesya Kipel and a member of the Council of the Belarusian National Republic Alesya Syomukha.
The main topic for discussion was the situation in Belarus after the presidential vote on December 19, and the following surge of crackdown against leaders of the democratic forces of the country, civil society representatives and independent media.
Lots of topics were touched upon: from the personal experience of Natalya Kalyada, who was arrested on the Square on December 19, and technologies of pressure on independent mass media by the Belarusian authorities, to the strategy of pressure of the US on the Belarusian government. In particular, it was said that the entry ban to the EU countries for officials is an excessively mild punishment for people who are taking massive repressive actions against their nation. Special attention was paid to analyzing means of economic pressure on Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime, in particular, on petrochemical industry and financial sphere.
Participants of the meeting expressed an opinion that in the context of escalation of crackdown in Belarus, the topic of political prisoners’ unconditional release should be an absolute priority in the talks with Lukashenka’s government. No agreements with the Belarusian regime can be in force without unconditional release of political prisoners.
In the end of the conversation the sides touched upon the issue of assistance to the civil society subjects in Belarus. Following the conversation, the priorities were set as support to the repressed and their families, independent mass media, effective public associations, students expelled from universities.
You will be able to read about the details of the discussion with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with Natalya Kalyada at charter97.org after her visit to Washington, where meetings at the US Congress and with representatives of the US political elite are planned for today and tomorrow.