Study: the UK Parliament Ready to Support Additional Sanctions Against Alexander Lukashenko's Regime

Aug 13, 2013, 08:04 ET from Belarusians in Exile

LONDON, Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 44% of British MPs are ready to support tougher sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko's regime, a survey by influential British pollster YouGov says.  Slightly more, 45% of MPs are undecided, while 11% are against tougher sanctions. 

The representative survey of 100 British MPs has been commissioned by Belarusians in Exile, a non-profit organization, as part of a campaign Belarusian organizations are running in Europe and the US to limit the inflow of capital to Lukashenko's regime from the West.

"Both the EU and the US have approved sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, which has been recognized as a dictatorship, and is responsible for systematic human rights violations. However, the sanctions are not effective in Europe, with the volume of trade between the EU and Belarus increasing every year," says Dmitry Shehigelsky, a BIE co-founder. "We call upon the EU to use sanctions against the state-owned companies which generate the largest profits for the Belarusian government machine, primarily exporters of crude oil, potash, and chemicals. All the necessary laws are already in place, and these sanctions will be the most effective leverage to ensure respect for human rights in Belarus." 

"The EU passed amendments to the law on sanctions against the Lukashenko regime in November 2012 so that they can include the key people and companies financially supporting the regime. Now it's time to act and expand the sanctions," says human rights lawyer and expert on sanctions, Jamison Firestone

Belarusian organizations have contacted the European Parliament and the EU Foreign Affairs Council to consider expanding sanctions to the largest sources of incoming hard currency to Belarus: the Belarusian Potash Company, Belaruskali, OAO Belshina, OAO Naftan, and others. Leading Belarusian organizations are also asking the national parliaments of EU members to approve resolutions for tougher sanctions.

"In January-April 2013 Belarus' export to the UK tripled in comparison with the same period of last year to $267.8 million.  This is unacceptable and British people do not want to finance repression.  We are happy to see so many Members of Parliament following the example of prominent British actors and supporting tougher sanctions against the regime. We feel strongly that William Hague and Catherine Ashton should abandon the EU's realpolitik approach and support morality and human rights," Natalia Kaliada, a founder of the Belarus Free Theatre, says.

The YouGov study included 100 MPs, representative by party affiliation; Labor MPs supported expansion of the sanctions by the greatest margin of all the main parliamentary parties – a majority of Labor MPs support tougher sanctions, with only two MPs against the expansion. 

Dima Shehigelsky
Belarusians in Exile
+1 (646) 583-2525

SOURCE Belarusians in Exile