Expert: EU Must Block Belarus Commodity Exports

Jan 15, 2013, 10:12 ET from Belarusians in Exile

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yet another prominent expert has joined the chorus of voices calling for the EU to toughen the sanctions against the current regime in Belarus, which is responsible for systematically violating human rights. Yaroslav Romanchuk, a Belarusian economist and politician, Director of the Mises Research Center and a Presidential candidate in the 2010 election, said on the air on New York City's 87.7FM radio station: "This is the only… truly effective sanction, a ban on Belarussian exports of, say, petroleum products and potash fertilizers."

The Belarus Trap show, featuring Romanchuk as one of the speakers, was organized with support from Belarusians in Exile, a human rights organization established by Belarusian expats and emigrants to support democratic institutions in their home country.

The US and EU have listed Belarus, which has been led by President Alexander Lukashenko for nearly 20 years, as a dictatorship, implementing sanctions against this Eastern European nation. President Lukashenko and senior government officials are subject to travel bans in the EU, and approximately 200 companies under government control have been put on the list of companies against which sanctions are in effect. Even with the sanctions, the government of Belarus is receiving more than 60% of its revenues from exports. The US and Europe are among Lukashenko's most important trade partners, with petroleum products and potash accounting for the bulk of exports.

Many NPOs have called on the EU and the US government to toughen the sanctions against Belarus and ban trade with companies controlled by the government or spending their earnings to finance the Lukashenko regime. Earlier, Belarusians in Exile sent letters to the Council of the European Union requesting to extend sanctions to companies generating significant revenues for "Europe's last dictator," as the media describes Lukashenko.

"Romanchuk's idea of banning trade with Belarus in specific types of commodities – and specifically in petroleum and potash – is the perfect kind of economic sanctions," says Ilya Lushnikov, spokesman for Belarusians in Exile group. "These are precisely the sectors that Lukashenko controls, these are the sectors bringing the most money to the regime. Petroleum accounts for more than 90% of the nation's trade with the UK, for example," Lushnikov added: "We are going to take this initiative to the EU."

Belarusians in Exile – non-profit organization uniting Belarusians and their families who were forced to leave the Republic of Belarus because of systematic violations of human rights.

Ilya Lushnikov
+1 (646) 583-2525

SOURCE Belarusians in Exile