Denmark leads EU sanction charge on Belarus

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Following reports of election fraud in Belarus and the subsequent iron-fisted crackdown on protesters, Danish-led EU sanctions are being levelled against Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

The foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, revealed that Denmark has been one of the drivers behind the EU applying pressure on Belarus.

“Following strong Danish urging, the EU foreign ministers have today decided to prepare targeted sanctions against those responsible for election fraud and attacks on demonstrators and press Belarus. A broad consensus of solid support for civil society #dkpol#eudk#Belarus,” Kofod wrote on Twitter.

Often referred to as ‘Europe’s last dictator’, Lukashenko has managed to consolidate his position as leader of Belarus for 26 years by keeping a stranglehold on the opposition, altering the constitution and intimidating the press.

Since the election on the August 8-9 weekend, thousands of protesters have been arrested and police have used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to try to subdue the crowd.

Attacks on the press by the authorities have also been documented, including an instance involving a Danish photographer being kicked and punched in the face.

Despite the violence, tens of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets in Minsk yesterday to protest in what has been described as the biggest congregation of people in the country’s history. Similar protests occurred in Brest and Gomel.

A protest arranged by the Belarusian diaspora in Denmark was also held in Copenhagen yesterday.

Meanwhile, Lukashenko held his own rally in the capital, making a speech in which he referred to the protesters as “rats”.

What will Russia do?
It’s not the first time that Lukashenko has cracked down hard on protests following an election.

Protests following his landslide win in 2010 were also dealt with harshly, including the imprisonment and beating of opposition leaders.

So far, Russia has supported Lukashenko, with Putin saying that Russia was prepared to aid Belarus “in accordance with the collective military pact if necessary”.

© 2020 Copenhagen Post

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