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Lukashenko's diamond case

Why did Lukashenko postpone his visit to the Gomel Kristall plant from November 3 to November 17?

It has been discovered that the European Commission is preparing a new package of sanctions and proposing a ban on the import and transit of Russian diamonds and diamond jewelry starting from the beginning of 2024. According to the proposal, the ban would cover non-industrial natural and synthetic diamonds, as well as diamond jewelry, starting from January 2024. Additionally, a gradual ban on the import of Russian diamonds processed in third countries, including jewelry containing Russian diamonds, will be implemented from March 1 to September 1.

In Belarus, there is the Gomel jewelry plant "Kristall," which serves as a leading manufacturer of jewelry, diamonds, and diamond tools.

Several times, the NAM team and the United Transitional Cabinet have informed their partners that implementing sanctions solely against Russia while bypassing the Lukashenko regime leads to ineffective sanctions that can be easily circumvented. Both regimes have anticipated the potential impact of upcoming sanctions on Russian diamonds.

Lukashenko decided to personally showcase his significance in this matter and planned a visit to “Kristall” on November 3, which had to be rescheduled. What was the reason behind the delay of Lukashenko's visit to “Kristall”?

What occurred during that time?

From November 6 to 11, the Kimberley Process took place. It is an international certification scheme that governs the trade of rough diamonds, aimed at preventing the flow of blood diamonds and safeguarding the legal trade of rough diamonds worldwide.

The Kimberley Process was approved by the UN in 2003 and currently comprises 85 countries, including the USA, the European Union, Russia, China, several African states, and Belarus. The purpose of this Kimberley Process meeting was to counter Russia's financing of the war against Ukraine through the sale of rough diamonds and diamonds, including to the Lukashenko regime.

The primary focus of the Kimberley Process was the discussion of changes to the certification scheme approved by UN resolution 55/56, which seeks to address the issue of illegally mined diamonds financing not only rebel groups but also countries involved in warfare against other governments. If an expanded definition is adopted, it would also encompass rough diamonds mined in Russia and sold abroad in circumvention of sanctions.

However, as is the case with decision-making processes aimed at combating war, extremism, violence, and other crimes, there are risks associated with the participation of representatives from regimes such as Belarus and Russia, as well as so-called "friendly" countries. These risks include the potential obstruction of sanctions and restrictive decisions. Unfortunately, this was the outcome on this occasion as well.

Belarus, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Central African Republic (CAR) denounced the proposal to broaden the concept of "blood diamonds" as politically motivated and refused to agree to the new wording. Consequently, the negotiations yielded no results.

Why is the Kristall enterprise so important for the regime today?

OJSC Gomel PO Kristal
OJSC Gomel PO Kristal

The Lukashenko regime is already anticipating new financial flows resulting from its involvement in the "blood diamonds" business. After the completion of the Kimberley Process meeting, he embarked on a visit to OJSC Gomel PO Kristall, which has a role as a participant in schemes for the purchase and sale of rough diamonds and diamonds mined in Russia, which in turn finance Russia's further aggression against Ukraine.

In this Lukashenko scheme, the role of "Kristall" is merely that of a performer and a potential candidate for sanctions. All proceeds from these transactions will ultimately end up in the accounts of Lukashenko's trustees and, once again, in countries friendly to him. If representatives or employees of Kristall seek to understand the dictator's operations, they will likely find themselves receiving explanations elsewhere—behind bars. It's only a matter of time before the new criminal case earns its name: "diamond."

Russia confirmed the importance of Belarus’ apparent “independence” to circumvent sanctions

V. Putin and A. Lukashenko
V. Putin and A. Lukashenko

As a result of the Kimberley Process meeting, another crucial point was clearly recorded. In 2023, Zimbabwe, a strong ally of Lukashenko, assumed the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process. This is a common occurrence when dealing with dictators.

Belarus, however, was the only country to submit an application for the positions of Vice-Chairman in 2024 and Chairman in 2025. Despite this, participants of the meeting blocked the nomination of Lukashenko's representatives for these roles. Western countries objected to supporting such a close ally of Russia. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will assume the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process in 2024.

The Lukashenko regime received another clear message to understand its place, but the Russian Ministry of Finance expressed indignation during the meeting, citing "discrimination" against their accomplice in military aggression against Ukraine and as a country aiding in circumventing sanctions.

If the regime's plans come to fruition, much of which depends on our partners in the EU and the USA, Lukashenko and his wealthy family in Belarus will gain additional sources of profit from the resale of "blood diamonds."

Effective sanctions and actions against aggressive Russia must be introduced harmoniously, synchronously, and simultaneously. They should be targeted not only against the Lukashenko regime but also be controlled in order to bring about peace, law and order, and the downfall of two regimes that have caused immense suffering and misfortune to millions of people.



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