23 January 2018, Tuesday, 3:09

Natallia Radzina: Stop trading with dictator


Potash and petroleum products export to the EU is a source of financing the repressive machine of Belarus.

Natallia Radzina, the editor-in-chief of Belarusian independent website Charter'97, visited Paris on invitation of the French MFA. Natallia, who had to leave Belarus for Warsaw after the events on December 19, 2010, discusses ineffective EU sanctions in an interview with RFI.

Do you think Europe and the world community have levers of pressure? These sanctions do not in fact change anything.

These sanctions don't change anything.  You are absolutely right. They are not effective, because more than 200 Belarusian officials are subject to a travel ban, but, for example, interior minister Ihar Shunevich visited France. He visited Lyon on invitation of the Interpol Secretary General. He is subject to travel restrictions. This man interrogated me in the KGB jail, he is involved in torturing political prisoners, but he visited France. Lidzia Yarmoshyna, the head of the Central Election Commission who has been falsifying elections since 1996, suddenly visited Vienna ahead of new forthcoming election frauds. She was invited to an OSCE conference. It is an outrageous fact. Visa bans can be bypassed.

Sanctions were imposed only on three businessmen. It is just three pro-Lukashenka oligarchs. Not all of their companies were hit by sanctions. The main thing is that Belarus still sells oil products and potash, which is the main income source for Lukashenka. Petroleum products and potash are main export products.

Russia supplies cheap oil. We process it and sell it to the West. The West buys it with great pleasure. Who controls this business? It is controlled by Lukashenka's family, his oligarchs and the KGB. What does recently resigned foreign minister Martynau do? He is already involved in oil business. He is already a special representative of Rosneft oil company in Minsk. This is a business for officials, the KGB and oligarchs.  Oil products sales to the West finance the KGB, riot police and special task troops.

We demand to impose targeted economic sanctions, but some EU countries stand against this step, because they gain profit from this business. The Netherlands is the leader in buying oil products from Belarus. It sells them to other couturiers from the port of Rotterdam. It's not the government level of course. It is done by business companies. The governments of Lithuania and Latvia are against. Why against? Because oil products and potash are transported via their countries. It is their budget item. They don't want to lose it. We see an unpleasant thing, when business interests are more important than human rights and lives of 9.5 million Belarusians.