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2021.06.01 16:26

Sanction Minsk where it hurts, says US senator in Vilnius

BNS2021.06.01 16:26

Sectoral sanctions for the Minsk regime would be more effective then restrictions for individual people, says US Senator Robert Portman, currently in Vilnius.

“Sectoral sanctions would be likely more effective,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.

Sectoral sanctions should be directed at causing pain for the Lukashenko regime.

“It tends to be products or industry sectors where we would see some impact,” the Republican senator from Ohio said.

Portman was also accompanied by his Democratic counterparts Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Chris Murphy of Connecticut. The US politicians met with Lithuanian Foreign Gabrielius Landsbergis and Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

The visit comes more than a week after the Belarusian government forced a Ryanair passenger plane flying from Athens to Vilnius to divert and land in Minsk in order to detain opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

Last Friday, the White House said the United States would impose sanctions on Belarus for its action. Washington said it is drafting a list of targeted sanctions for members of the Lukashenko regime in cooperation with the European Union.

The US lawmakers said the incident could not be left without a response, adding that the detained duo, as well as all other political prisoners in Belarus, must be released.

The politicians also thanked Lithuania for its leadership.

Last Friday, the White House said the United States would impose sanctions for Belarus for its action. The United States said it is drafting a list of targeted sanctions for members of the Lukashenko regime in cooperation with the European Union.

Meanwhile, Murphy said sanctions should be “strong, impactful and [done] in coordination with allies”.

“The US should [...] also send a message to the world that the democratic community, led by the US and the EU, won't let a brutal dictatorship get away with this kind of persecution of political opponents,” he said.

Shaheen said Lukashenko must release all political prisoners and Belarus should hold a democratic election.

“This is the time for you to go, make room for a democratically elected leader, more deserving of your people,” the senator said, addressing the Belarusian leader.

Also attending the conference, Tikhanovskaya thanked the US for the sanctions imposed on Belarus so far, stressing that need, however, for “further measures against enterprises and persons of the regime”.

“The situation is getting worse, repressions against people continue,” she said, adding that there were over 450 political prisoners in Belarus.

On Tuesday, Tadeusz Giczan, editor-in-chief of the Nexta channel, tweeted that the Minsk regime might have initially planned to hijack a plane with Tikhanovskaya onboard. The email about a bomb on the diverted Ryanair flight, which the Minsk government used to justify its actions, was sent from an account created on May 14, when Tikhanovskaya was in Greece.

Tsikhanouskaya said on Tuesday she was aware of this information, but could not confirm it.

“We don't have evidence,” she said.

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