No change for the better in Belarus
Former presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Dmitzry Us have been sentenced to six and five and a half years of imprisonment respectively for organising mass riots. The political opposition is being effectively dismantled by the Belarusian regime.
There is a fear that even more focus will be put on combating civil society and independent media now, groups that are considered to be traitors by the regime. This weekend, seven human rights defenders were detained right before the beginning of a seminar on detention conditions at the Belarusian Popular Front office in Minsk.
Human rights organisations have recently been presented in a negative manner on Belarusian state TV, as part of what seems to be a campaign to smear them.
The situation concerning human rights is continuously deteriorating and remains problematic six months after the presidential election on December 19th 2010. Freedom of speech continues to be restricted by pressure on independent domestic media and by harassment of foreign media.
At the same time, Belarus is facing a deepening economic crisis. The prices for fuel and other goods have increased drastically and the Belarusian rouble has devaluated. The economic situation of the citizens is worsening. The question is if the Belarusian economy can be saved even without the introduction of economic sanctions.
The option available for President Lukashenko is to privatise and sell Belarusian state companies in order to obtain funds. However, this solution is short-term and will most probably be disadvantageous for Belarus as their negotiation position is weak, to say the least.
The future in Belarus is uncertain. It is however certain that hard times await human rights organisations, independent media and also ordinary citizens.
We monitor the situation in Belarus and publish information about the situation here on our webpage:
Latest reports on Belarus:
New report on the violence against journalists in Belarus
Media coverage for presidential candidates restricted in Belarus
NGO:s call for more transparent EU-Belarus dialogue
Repressive measures remain in Belarus
Tags: Aleksander Lukashenka, Harassment, opposition, Presidential election 2010, and Trial monitoring.