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Alternative to Lukashenko

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

On January 10th, a briefing was held at the Canadian Embassy in Warsaw by the United Transitional Cabinet for ambassadors, chargé d'affaires, deputy ambassadors of all EU member states, as well as Argentina, Great Britain, Canada, Chile, Japan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Australia, and New Zealand. The video showcases the points that were raised to foreign diplomats.

I am often asked about my motivation to persist and continue fighting, despite the worsening situation in Belarus every day. I could provide a detailed and grim account of it, but instead, I will present a few numbers that speak for themselves. According to the human rights center "Viasna," by the end of 2023, there were officially 1,430 recognized political prisoners in custody in Belarus. Additionally, there are 745 former political prisoners who have served their entire sentences. At least 48 political prisoners are pensioners, and at least 42 are people with disabilities and serious illnesses. Over the past year, two political prisoners, Ales Pushkin and Nikolai Klimovich, died in prison, and earlier, Witold Ashurok also died in custody. Tragically, there have also been cases of suicide.

However, that is not all. According to a report by the Justice Hub Center for Law and Democracy, from May 2020 to May 2023, at least 136,000 people fell victim to crimes against humanity in Belarus. These crimes include illegal imprisonment, torture, murder, rape, and other forms of serious sexual violence, including against minors, as well as forced disappearances and deportations. These atrocities occur on a daily basis.

Given that these numbers continue to rise and that crimes against the Belarusian people persist without respite, what do I believe in? My answer is that I believe in international law and accountability. This belief forms the foundation of the strategy we have been operating within and have been offering to our international partners throughout these years.

Lukashenko and his accomplices must be held accountable, not only to deliver long-awaited justice but also to provide an alternative to the state into which Lukashenko has plunged the country. This alternative must stand against the regime's total arbitrariness, dictatorship, lawlessness, and disregard for the rule of law.

How can we create such an alternative and make it the cornerstone of the West's comprehensive strategy for Belarus?

  1. International prosecution: It is crucial to issue an arrest warrant for Lukashenko. The International Criminal Court can base this warrant on two types of crimes committed by the dictator: crimes against humanity targeting Belarusians and war crimes.

  2. Sanctions as a means of accountability: Sanctions against the Lukashenko regime need to be tightened, with strict monitoring of their enforcement. One proposed measure is the adoption of a robust human rights package that targets sectors of the economy and goods produced using the labor of political prisoners. Furthermore, it is important to align economic sanctions against Russia and the Lukashenko regime concerning the war against Ukraine.

  3. International recognition of the United Transitional Cabinet: Supporting a political alternative to the illegitimate Lukashenko regime is imperative. Non-recognition and isolation of Lukashenko and his government should persist.

  4. An alternative to the "Russian world": Offering a European perspective for Belarus serves as an alternative to the current geopolitical climate. The European Union is the chosen path for democratic forces, and support for this choice should be extended by expanding and strengthening cooperation between EU institutions and democratic forces.


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