What do the sanctions for the murder of Raman Bandarenka provide for?
The events in Belarus have become perhaps the most discussed foreign policy topic in the European Parliament in the second half of 2020. On November 26, MEPs held a debate about “continuing violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular, the murder of Raman Bandarenka”. In the afternoon, they adopted a corresponding resolution, which was voted for by 613 MEPs, opposed by 41, while 35 MEPs abstained, reports dw.com.
European Parliament’s resolution on the murder of Raman Bandarenka
Raman Bandarenka, a 31-year-old activist, was brutally beaten on the evening of 11 November 2020 by a group of plain-clothed, masked men in the yard of his house. This yard was named as the “Yard of Changes” by the protesters. Bandarenka was delivered to a hospital where he died from head injuries the next day.
In the resolution, the members of the European Parliament strongly condemned “the murder of raman Bandarenka” and expressed condolences to his family and to all families who have lost loved ones as a result of “the repression of Lukashenka’s regime”. The MEPs added that, according to the information they have, the masked men who beat Raman Bandarenka had “close ties to the Lukashenka regime”. Raman Bandarenka continued to be beaten in detention and after two hours was taken to hospital, noted in the resolution.
“The authorities (of Belarus - edit.) are trying to deflect responsibility by alleging that Mr Bandarenka was beaten by ‘concerned citizens’ and prosecuting the two whistle-blowers: a doctor and a journalist, who disclosed the information (about Mr. Bandarenka - edit.)”, the EP states. It is known that the Investigatory Committee of Belarus claims that Bandarenka was injured as a result of “a fight between aggressive locals hanging up the ribbons and the people taking them off.” We are talking about white-red-white ribbons and flags, because of which the “Yard of Changes” became famous.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka said that Bandarenka was drunk. However, tut.by journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich published medical reports received from doctor Artsiom Sarokin that no alcohol was found in Bandarenka's blood. After that Barysevich and Sarokin were detained. The European Parliament called on Minsk to release them and all other political prisoners.
The EU measures against the Lukashenka regime are insufficient
In the resolution, the MEPs usrge the Belarusian authorities “ to cease all forms of violence, ill-treatment, gender-based violence and torture against Belarusian citizens and detainees, and to release all those detained on political motives.
According to the data of the European Parliament, there are now over 125 political prisoners in Belarus, and in total, since May, more than 25 thousand Belarusians have been detained for protests against Lukashenka.
The European Parliament also called on the EU to support an international investigation of the “crimes of the Lukashenka regime.” In support of this, according to MEPs, an international center for collecting evidence should be created. The resolution notes that the European Parliament itself must equip a mission to collect facts about human rights violations.
“The measures taken so far by the European Union and its member states against the Lukashenka regime are insufficient,” the European Parliament came to this conclusion in the resolution. It called on the EU to adopt a third package of sanctions, which will also include Belarusian companies and oligarchs. The EU Council had decided a week earlier to start preparing such new measures. Another measure that MEPs have called for is to adopt a regime of sanctions for violations of human rights.
New sanctions for the murder of Bandarenka
“The Lukashenka regime is applying to the people of Belarus what we should call internal terrorism. Six people have been killed, including Raman Bandarenka,” said Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius, representing the position of the largest faction in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), during the debate. The resolution also listed five other Belarusians who died during the protests: Aliaksandr Tarikouski, Kanstantsin Shyshmakou, Artsiom Parukou, Aliaksandr Vikhor and Henadz Shutau.
“He died young. Raman was 31 years old. And he will never see Belarus free and independent. He is only the latest victim of the Lukashenka regime,” said Social Democrat Robert Biedroń, chairman of the European Parliament delegation on relations with Belarus. “I got the impression that the EU is showing a lot of words, but little action,” he added.
“Raman is not the first victim of Lukashenka’s regime to be brutally killed, but it is our responsibility to make sure that this is the last victim,” said Viola von Cramon, a German MEP from the Greens.
How the EU can help Belarus
MEPs from several factions at once, in particular the EPP, the Social Democrats and the Greens, expressed the opinion that the sanctions imposed by the European Union against 55 Belarusian officials turned out to be ineffective. Pole Andrzej Halicki from EPP called for expanding the list to hundreds and even thousands, primarily at the expense of riot police.
Other MEPs called for economic measures. Viola Von Cramon has proposed sectoral sanctions for the “energy and chemical sectors”. It is known that the products of the chemical and oil refining industries make up a significant part of the Belarusian export to the EU. And Kubilius suggested limiting Belarus' access to the SWIFT bank transfer system.
According to the Lithuanian, the European Union should also make it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he continues to support the Lukashenka regime, then additional sanctions may be imposed on Russia. However, not everyone agrees with him. “The key to solving the problem is held in Moscow. We must involve Putin in European diplomatic efforts, who is the only external force that can influence the fate of Belarus,” said Charles Goerens, an MEP from the liberal Renew Europe faction from Luxembourg.
German Helmut Scholz, a representative of the “left” faction, added that although the protesters may have different views of the EU and Russia, they are all united by the understanding that “without freedom of opinion and participation of all citizens in political decisions, Belarus has no future”.