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Is Lukashenko a Champion?

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

Relatively recently, another rating was published that included Belarus under the dictatorship of Lukashenko. Or rather, an anti-rating, because this is the only category Belarus has fallen into in recent years due to the "wise" policies of Alexander Lukashenko.

What kind of anti-rating is this? In which championship did the Lukashenko regime confidently secure 5th place, alongside Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar, and Venezuela?

(By the way, how do you feel about this neighborhood in general? It's definitely something to be proud of, right?)

Of course, this is sarcasm. Our country ended up in this “team” due to the number of sanctions imposed. And this is what the anti-rating looks like:

It is important to pay attention to the indicator "after February 2022." If we examine it closely, we'll see that almost half of the sanctions imposed on Belarus were imposed after the start of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine. The Lukashenko regime became an aggressor in this war.

Why is this important? It's crucial for a sober understanding of reality. Lukashenko dragged Belarus into the war. It is true that rockets and bombs are not falling on Belarus, and drones are not flying into our cities, which is undoubtedly a good thing.

However, this is only because Ukraine itself and its allies, unlike Russia and the Lukashenko regime, are rational. Nevertheless, hundreds of missiles were launched from Belarus into Ukraine. Military equipment and soldiers were sent. Thousands of people were killed. The Lukashenko regime facilitated this invasion from the territory of Belarus.

If someone believes otherwise or prefers to ignore the clear evidence of Lukashenko's aggression—such as the atrocities committed against civilians in Ukrainian towns like Bucha, made possible only because Lukashenko facilitated the invasion of Ukraine from Belarus—then they should take another look at this picture and the indicator "sanctions imposed after February 2022." These are sanctions for war. 

However, there have been no rocket attacks or military operations on Belarusian territory, not because Lukashenko is a great guy who saved our country from such attacks, but because to the west of Belarus, there are civilized and reasonable people, not insane barbarians and murderers.

Sanctions are a civilized tool of response to the crimes and barbarism of persons like Lukashenko, who are far from civilized themselves. Sanctions are meant to force them to cease their madness. That is why we seek to strengthen and expand sanctions and utilize other legal measures of international pressure against a regime that continues to commit crimes, engage in mass repression against Belarusians, engage in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children, and use illegal migrants as weapons in their hybrid war with the European Union.

We are constantly working and proposing ways to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions and counter the lobbying efforts aimed at weakening them, as they are among the few civilized tools available for exerting real pressure on regimes like the one in Belarus. The second tool is international criminal law, such as utilizing the mechanisms of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where we are seeking the issuance of an arrest warrant against Lukashenko.

But let's return to the sanctions and the anti-rating that Belarus has been included in. What does the 5th place tell us?

беднеющая Беларусь

Firstly, it tells us that Lukashenko is not a champion or even a bronze medalist, at least for now. However, he is undoubtedly a master in the field of sanctions. Not in hockey, but when it comes to being the target of sanctions.

Secondly, it suggests that, in the eyes of the civilized world, Lukashenko is not much different from cannibals like Bashar Assad, Kim Jong-un, Min Aung Hlaing (the leader of the military junta in Myanmar), or Nicolas Maduro. Moreover, the Lukashenko regime has already surpassed the latter two in terms of the number of sanctions imposed and is not far behind North Korea.

This is essentially a black mark. It was incredibly easy for Lukashenko to enter such a campaign since he did everything and more to deserve it. However, Belarus will only be able to get out of this situation if the Lukashenko regime is abolished.

Some may argue that Lukashenko is still far from Assad or Kim, let alone Khomeini and Putin, in terms of the scale of his actions. They may even argue that the world is full of dictatorships worse than Lukashenko's.

In absolute terms, they may be partially correct. However, we must not forget, firstly, the geographical location of Belarus. Europe has not witnessed such repressions in a long time, and mass terror at its borders will not go unnoticed.

Secondly, Lukashenko is not just a dictator who has committed at least 130,000 (!) crimes against humanity against his own people, which is horrifying in itself. He is not merely a hybrid aggressor who hijacked a plane and initiated a migration war with the EU. He is a military aggressor who participated in the war against Ukraine on the side of Russia. Providing territory and infrastructure for committing an act of aggression can not be interpreted differently.

And now, due to Lukashenko's actions, Belarus is objectively perceived by the West in general and the EU in particular as a real threat. It will continue to be perceived this way as long as Lukashenko remains in power and continues to commit crimes against Belarusians and engage in aggression. Consequently, new sanctions will continue to be introduced, despite any slowdown in their adoption rates.

So, what is the alternative to this situation?

Labor camp in North Korea
Labor camp in North Korea. Source:

How can Belarus overcome its negative rankings and attain respectable positions in various indices such as the quality of life index, democracy, innovation, economic freedom, and more? Additionally, when can we expect the sanctions against Belarus to be lifted?

The answer is straightforward - for Belarus to achieve these goals, there must be an absence of dictatorship in the country. Leaders like Lukashenko and similar figures should not be present.

Sanctions are one of the tools that can help in getting rid of Lukashenko, and they should be utilized along with other pressure instruments to weaken the regime.

However, it is important to remember that the complete abolition of the dictatorship and the establishment of democracy in Belarus can only be achieved by Belarusians themselves. The fight for freedom and the future of the country lies in the hands of its people.

While Lukashenko may dream of turning the page, it is up to the Belarusian people to flip that page in a way that ensures his name never appears on the following pages again. The goal is to live in a country that is not ranked alongside North Korea or any other oppressive regime in any ranking.



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