The MEPs urge that the Charter97.org website should be immediately unblocked and that measures that threaten freedom of speech should be abandoned.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Belarus at a meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday.
The MEPs stated that Minsk did not take into account, despite previous appeals, the recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe in organizing the local "elections" in 2018. They called for the immediate resumption of work on the overall electoral reform.
The resolution expresses regret over the persecution of independent journalists and mass media in Belarus during local elections and gives an example with the blocking of the information portal Charter'97 and the beating of Belsat TV channel's journalist Andrei Kozel. The European Parliament called for the immediate abolition of the blocking of the Charter97.org site and the abandonment of measures that threaten freedom of speech.
European parliamentarians establish the fact there were obstacles to the representatives of the democratic opposition at polling stations and criticize refusals to register democratic opposition parties.
They regretted the disproportionate response of the Belarusian authorities to the opposition's attempts to organize a demonstration on the occasion of the celebration of the Freedom Day on March 25, 2018, which led to the arrest of dozens of activists, including opposition leaders.
The MEPs insisted that "any retreat in the field of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms, including an increase in the number of political prisoners, must systematically lead to a clear reaction from the EU with regard to its relations with Belarus."
The European Parliament once again called on Belarus to immediately release two political prisoners, Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Dzmitry Paliyenka, and to rehabilitate all the former political prisoners and restore their civil and political rights.
The resolution calls on the Belarusian authorities to guarantee respect for democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to release all political prisoners.
The European Parliament insists that Belarus join the moratorium on the death penalty as the first step towards its complete abolition.
The deputies called on the European External Action Service and the European Commission to continue supporting the civil society organizations in Belarus and stressed the importance of helping independent sources of information of the Belarusian society, in particular radio stations, websites and TV channels broadcasting in Belarusian from abroad.
The European Parliament took note of the sectoral dialogues between the EU and Belarus at the technical level in such areas as economic reform, efficient use of resources, green economy and environmental protection. At the same time, it called on the European External Action Service and the European Commission to give special priority to the safety of the nuclear power plant in Astravets in order to ensure full compliance with international nuclear safety standards.
The MEPs expressed their interested expectation of the completion of the negotiations between the EU and Belarus on partnership priorities that will expand the space of bilateral cooperation for the benefit of citizens of both sides and will give Belarus access to financial support and enhanced cooperation with the EU provided it takes concrete measures for democratization and transparency, including, as a matter of priority, a complete reform of the electoral system.