"Transitions Online": Belarusians should be barred from the international arena
"Squeezing the squeezer" this is the headline the internet periodical Transitions Online (www.tol.cz) used to entitle the article that analyzes the conflict around the Union of Poles in Belarus, the strategy of the official Minsk, Warsaw and European Union. A Radio Liberty correspondent discloses the contents of the publication.
Some people view Lukashenka as a brutal or at times comical person that likes sports and military events. However, the last incident showed how efficient the Belarusian president may kill or at least wound with one stone several birds – the opposition, Poland, European Union, says Transitions Online.
As it relates the details of the conflict, the periodical notes that since Lukashenka came to power in 1994, the Union of Poles has turned into an obedient organization involved only with Polish culture and education. (This is, by the way, not quite the case – under the leadership of Tadeusz Havin, who resigned in 2000, the Union was not all that obedient. Now Tadeusz Havin serves 30 days in prison for an "unauthorized" congress and a fight he allegedly caused in the cell.) But after a group of bold leaders emerged at the head of the Union of Poles, who were not inclined to act in a conformist manner, the authorities decided to take no risks.
As Transitions Online notes, in this campaign Lukashenka uses his favorite technique – destroying his opponents, he whips up the anti-western hysteria, accusing the West of financing the Belarusian opposition and attempted "orange" revolution like those in Georgia and Ukraine. Because he has no means of attacking Poland, a NATO member, Lukashenka has opted for one of the available options – attacking the Poles that depend on him, believes the Transitions Online journalist.
The EU commission adopted a statement condemning the "growing political reprisals in Belarus". However, reprisals in Belarus have been on the increase since Lukashenka came to power and reached an unacceptable level long before the Union of Poles affair. Transitions Online notes that the European Union has potentially powerful levers of economically influencing Belarus – more than a third of the Belarusian exports are west-bound. However, the traditional problem is how to apply sanctions without damaging the common Belarusians.
According to the periodical, what would be more acceptable is broadening visa sanctions applied against Belarusian government officials to be extended to their families. Also, barring Belarusian sportsmen from international competitions would get Lukashenka to the quick, considering his love for sport.