NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Deck of cards depicting Belarusian government officials and businessmen linked to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko was released in the US by human rights organizations campaigning against the dictatorial regime in Belarus. Four aces in the deck carry the face of Mr. Lukashenko, known in the media as 'the last dictator in Europe.'
"Belarus is a fully fledged dictatorship, and there is no real power there besides Lukashenko. He personally decides on everything from whom to put in prison to prices on utilities. That's why all aces in the deck were 'given' to Lukashenko. There is simply no one else to put there," says Dima Shehigelsky, head of New York-based non-profit 'Belarusians in Exile' (BiE) and one of the deck's authors.
The human rights organizations urge the US and the EU to add the individuals listed in the deck to the sanctions list because 'they materially assisted actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Belarus.' Besides Alexander Lukashenko and his family, the deck includes 52 individuals, such as Valentin Sukalo, head of the Belarusian Supreme Court, Valery Kirienko, director of Belaruskali, Vladimir Tretyakov, head of oil trader Naftan, Elena Kudryavets, director of Belarusian Potash Company – businesspeople responsible for bringing funds to the regime, and more.
According to BiE, 'the Belarusian deck' was produced to aid the EU and the US to learn about those who are behind the dictatorship in Belarus: "Lukashenko appoints and fires people quicker than the authorities are able to adjust the sanctions list. Belarusians hope that the deck will come in handy".
The playing cards are being sent to the Parliaments of the EU members, to the US government, the U.S. Treasury, and the European Council, and other state agencies and organizations that make decisions on sanctions against Belarus.
"The playing cards will remind politicians that Lukashenko is playing poker with the EU. He takes political prisoners hostage, and after sanctions against his regime are increased, he lets some of the prisoners out and sanctions get lifted, and this game goes on for years," says Dima Shehigelsky. "We hope that the EU will ban the Lukashenko's entourage from keeping their money in European banks and sending their kids to schools in Europe. This will be more effective than any realpolitik."
Online version of the playing cards can be found at http://belarusiancards.com/ and features more information on the individuals than the printed version. According to the publishers, the deck will be reviewed and updated annually.
SOURCE Belarusians in Exile