19 January 2018, Friday, 8:59

Minsk again trades in political prisoners


Justas Paleckis says Minsk is ready to free political prisoners.

The European Parliament's Rapporteur on Belarus, Justas Paleckis, said it to Radio Svaboda today. The Lithuanian MP is on a visit to Minsk on March 18-21 to collect materials for his report for a plenary sitting of the European Parliament.

The rapporteurs said the problem of the release of political prisoners was “the question of all questions”. Paleckis said he had raised the question at all meetings, especially with Belarusian officials:

“It is really the question of all questions. As far as I understand, Minsk has stopped being uncompromising and unwilling to solve the issue. In my view, it is possible. It's yet difficult to say when it will happen.”

Asked if it concerns both the release of the political prisoners and their rehabilitation, the Lithuanian MP said:

“I mostly talked to the opposition and civil society. I talked more with them than with officials. They have different opinions. They say demands for rehabilitation are unreal. Others say the political prisoners should be released and rehabilitated. We need to think.”

Leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka, who had a face-to-face meeting with Paleckis, insists on rehabilitation of political prisoners.

“I said the EU and European institutions should demand the Belarusian authorities to rehabilitate all political prisoners,” the chairman of the United Civil Party said.

“He wanted to hear the proposals he could mention in his report. My main idea is that efforts should be focused on the things that change the situation rather than put it on standby. It means we should focus not on minor things, but on fundamental issues, such as the release and rehabilitation of political prisoners, free and fair elections and a modernisation plan for Belarus.”

The rapporteur on Belarus held talks with deputy foreign minister Alena Kupchyna.

Belarusian MFA spokesman Andrei Savinykh noted:

“We know that Mr Palecis arrived in Belarus to collect information for a report on Belarus-EU relations. We presented an official point of view to him. We hope it will be an impartial report. If it happens, it will possibly facilitate mutual understanding and step up the dialogue between Belarus and the EU. I think both sides need it.”

The EP Rapporteur on Belarus has held a number of meetings. He talked to head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Maira Mora, heads of diplomatic missions of Germany, Poland and the US to Belarus, opposition politicians, human rights activists, analysts and governmental officials.

Paleckis said he would introduce the first draft report on the situation in Belarus next month. It will be a short 4-page document, he says.

It should be reminded that Maryna Adamovich, the wife of political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, criticised the visit of the Lithuanian MP to Minsk.