Human Rights Organization: Belarus Has Taken its First Russian Political Prisoner
NEW YORK, Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 'Belarusians in Exile', a non-profit organization, has called on the EU and the US to review its policy towards Belarus in light of the fact that the Lukashenko regime has taken another political prisoner in an effort to retain control over the potash market and the major source of funding.
On July 30, Russian potash producer Uralkali announced that it was withdrawing from Belarus Potash Company, a cartel that controlled over 40% of the world's potash market, and would concentrate on volume rather than high prices. It's general manager stated that potash prices could fall from about $400 USD a tonne to $250 a tonne, a change that can only be good for buyers but which is disastrous for Lukashenko.
Belarus's economy is heavily dependent on potash sales that account for 8 per cent of exports. The Belarusian regime desperately needs hard currency at a time when the Belarusian ruble is declining in value and threatening to go into freefall.
Belarus responded to Uralkali's decision by inviting Uralkali's CEO, Vladislav Baumgertner, to a meeting on August 26 with its Foreign Minister and then arresting him.
"The arrest looks politically motivated and is an attempt by Lukashenko to put pressure on Uralkali not to break the Belarusian potash monopoly. As strange as it may seem, Lukashenko has just taken his first Russian political prisoner," says Ilya Lushnikov, BIE spokesperson.
"The time is ripe for EU members to take a common stand and make an extra push for the fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus. We urge the EU to expand restrictive measures against the Lukashenko regime by including Belaruskali and Belarus Potash Company in the list of sanctioned companies which cannot trade in the EU. This is particularly important in regards to Belaruskali and BPC, companies which Lukashenko has taken such drastic measures to preserve as monopolists to finance his regime," says Ilya Lushnikov, BIE spokesperson.
Belarusians in Exile has urged European Parliament and The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union to consider expanding sanctions against Lukashenko's regime by adding a number of companies owned or controlled by the regime which are its largest hard currency earners.
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SOURCE Belarusians in Exile