Martin Uggla: It’s naïve to think that “liberalisation” started in Belarus
It may be said without exaggeration that the release of the six political prisoners: Mikalai Statkevich, Yury Rubtsou, Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dzyadok, Yauhen Vaskovich and Artsyom Prakapenka, has become the most significant event in Belarus. The comments on the occasion have been given to charter97.org by the leader of Swedish human rights organisation Östgruppen, Martin Uggla.
- How do you evaluate this event and why, to your mind, the Belarusian authorities had to make such a move?
- It is certainly a wonderful piece of news for the political prisoners themselves and for their relatives.
But is should be said that in reality it changes nothing in the Belarusian situation, as the repressive system remain in power, and the authorities can imprison new political prisoners any moment.
We should not be naïve and think that some kind of “liberalization” has started. It is a move made by Alyaksandr Lukashenka exclusively for his own benefit, in a hope that the European Union would ease the sanctions.
Now Lukashenka is in a very difficult situation, he is simply short of money. And he is trying to find a way out in this way.
- What stand should be taken by the European Union towards the Belarusian regime, in order not to be engaged in its unsavoury games by people’s lives?
- It is highly important for the European Union to demand not only full rehabilitation of the political prisoners, but the systemic reforms in Belarus. There are serious doubts that Europe can answer to this move by lifting the sanctions and restoring relations with the Belarusian government. It would be a great mistake.
Demands of full rehabilitation of political prisoners, systemic political reforms, holding free and transparent elections should be continued. That’s because we see that instead of the elections a farce is taking place, which had been observed earlier as well.
- Almost all Belarusian democratic forces have recognized this “elections” a farce. To your mind, what position of European politicians and human rights activists should be towards them?
- Firstly, this “election” is illegitimate, as Alyaksandr Lukashenka is running in it, and he received a “right” for that in a result of the illegitimate referendum of 2004.
Just, legal elections should be demanded, and what is happening in Belarus now must not be recognized. It is the most important thing the European Union should do, not to acknowledge legitimacy to the illegal ruler.
For the Belarusian opposition, which has adopted the tactics of boycott of the “elections” or non-participation in it, it is very important to stress the principled position: this “elections” are illegitimate.