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David Kramer: Lukashenka Fears of the Maidan in Belarus

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David Kramer: Lukashenka Fears of the Maidan in Belarus

The Western countries should keep sanctions on the Belarusian regime.

David Kramer, Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedoms at the McCain Institute, stated that in his interview to Voice of America.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights does not share the view about changes in Belarus. He also takes a stand against suspension of some sanctions introduced by Europeans.

"Belarus has not become a democratic country, David Kramer stated. - It is miles away from it. No violence, if compare with the past elections, right after the close of polling stations is the thing observers paid attention to. However, it is still a low bar for elections. Results were predictable long before. There was no rush or expectation. Many opposition forces boycotted them.

The West felt like necessity to mention no violence during the elections. It also considered it was necessary to react to the release of political prisoners. Lukashenka is the master to play off the West against Russia. It reminds me of Groundhog Day. It all happened earlier. The West continues talks with Lukashenka, just as if nothing has happened."

David Kremer criticized the European Union politicians who are speaking for the suspension of the sanctions against the Belarusian regime.

"Having lifted sanctions, even as temporary measure, they came too far. None of political prisoners released in August has been rehabilitated, although it was one of the EU and the USA conditions, he stated. – But it did not happen. The West is thrilled with Belarus free from Russia's influence that allows it to be more Western like. I think it is a mistake. Yes, the United States are interested in relation normalization including an Ambassador's return to Minsk. But we do forget that Belarus today hardly has any political opposition, and the civil society is suppressed. Journalists are under censorship, there is no opportunity to speak out or criticize Lukashenka. The country remains under the authoritarian regime.

Western countries should continue putting pressure on the Belarusian regime and requiring further steps towards democratization, as well as providing support to opposition, David Kramer believes.

"I believe that Lukashenka and his inner circle should stay in the sanction list. More liberalization must be required; lifting sanctions will not promote it. Today Lukashenka fears of the Maidan in his country.

Let's take a look at events in 2008 when political prisoner Aliaksandr Kazulin and some more people were released. To a far greater degree Europe is involved in two-year process of relation normalization. It extended a hand by lifting sanctions to woo Lukashenka. All these efforts crushed after bloody events in 2010.

European leaders believe that they have enough problems in this part of Europe, so they are interested in fence-mending with Lukashenka. Is it naive? I would say it is. I fear that, as soon as Belarus is no longer under the spotlight, Lukashenka will renew pressure on the opposition and once again begin to imprison dissentients. His main goal is to retain power. Lukashenka is ready to take nearly any measures to reach it."

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