August 28, 2020

Western democracies must stand with people of Belarus


Dear Editor:

The European Union has declared that the presidential elections in Belarus “were neither free nor fair” and “credible reports of domestic observers show that the electoral process did not meet the international standards expected of an OSCE participating state.”

In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, for the announced outcome of the election. Not surprising, considering how Mr. Putin clings to power in Russia.

The Russian news agency TASS reported that Mr. Putin stated: “I expect that your statesmanship will facilitate the further development of mutually beneficial Russian-Belarusian relations in all spheres, as well as the further enhancement of cooperation within the union state, the strengthening of integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS, and of military-political ties within the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”

The political turmoil in Belarus will make it increasingly tempting for the Russian president to reach for those geopolitical goals – with or without Mr. Luka­shenka – which would further endanger security and stability in Europe.

Thus, the international community needs to be proactive during these challenging times to ensure that the will of the people of Belarus is respected and not subjected to tyranny and oppression from within or abroad.

Leaders of Western democracies must stand firm with the people of Belarus as they exercise the fundamental rights guaranteed to all under the Universal Declara­tion of Human Rights and take appropriate measures against those responsible for violations of the electoral process, brutal crackdowns against protesters and politically motivated arrests.

Eugene Czolij,

The letter-writer is president of the NGO Ukraine-2050 and former president (2008-2018) of the Ukrainian World Congress.