Friday, March 24, 2006

The Siege Of Minsk, 2006 - Day 6: The Symbolic/Physical Siege At The Heart Of 21st Century Europe Continues With The Police Sweep Of Freedom Square

Minsk, 23 March. "German diplomat Hans-Georg Wieck, head of the Human Rights in Belarus association, described the declared reelection of Aleksandr Lukashenko for a third term as a "Pyrrhus" victory.

"Lukashenko earned a 'Pyrrhus' victory, meaning to say, a victory of limited duration and at high, at very high political cost - at home, where he lost the trust and confidence of the citizen enjoyed in earlier times, and abroad where he is seen nowadays as a symbol of neo-soviet dictatorship," Dr. Wieck said in a statement.

He suggested that the European Union should adopt further restrictions in their dealings with the Lukashenko regime, "eliminate the deplorable shortcomings existing nowadays in their direct cooperation with the political and public structures of civil society in Belarus," adopt a "European Political Strategy for Belarus," and launch an action program to support the "endeavours of civil society to overcome by peaceful means, namely free and fair elections, the ruling tyranny and to assume their proper role among the flourishing democracies in Europe."

Dr. Wieck headed the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus between 1998 and 2001."

"Hans-Georg Wieck describes Lukashenko's reelection as "Pyrrhus" victory" March 23, 2006


"European Union leaders today decided to personally punish Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko after an election widely seen as rigged - announcing “restrictions” against the authoritarian leader that would likely include a travel ban from Europe.

The EU decision in Brussels puts Lukashenko on the same EU blacklist as other leaders such as Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Burma’s military leaders, all of whom have a freeze on their European assets and visa bans against them.

Authorities in Belarus were urged to refrain from any further action against protesters after police in Minsk stormed the opposition tent camp early this morning, detaining hundreds of demonstrators.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU would continue to back “the peaceful opposition” adding the EU had to take action to “restrict those that prevented (democratic) free choice.”

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson said Belarus was “the last dictatorship in Europe”.

Irish "EU leaders impose more sanctions on Belarus president" March 24, 2006.


"The head of the opposition in Belarus, Aleksandr Milinkevitsj, has been invited to Oslo for talks with Norway's foreign minister. Norway has denounced the results of the weekend election that gave a huge victory to the man known as the last dictator in Europe. Belarus' opposition leader Aleksandr Milinkevitsj was constantly hassled during the election campaign, and most observers say the election itself was rigged.

It's hoped that Milinkevitsj can meet with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at the end of next week. Støre has expressed support for Milinkevitsj and decried the election that ensured another term for Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko.

The invitation came just as Lukashenko's police troops cracked down on demonstrators who had been protesting the results of the election all week.

"We don't know very much about the situation in the Belarusian capital of Minsk right now," Bjørn Engesland, secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, told news bureau NTB." ...

Nina Berglund Aftenposten: News From Norway " Belarus opposition's leader invited to Oslo" March 24, 2006


WASHINGTON (AP) - "The United States joined European nations Friday in imposing sanctions on Belarus in retaliation for a crackdown on political protesters after an election that the White House said was fraudulent. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Washington would act in unison with the European Union in applying targeted travel restrictions and financial sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko and others.

"We urge all members of the international community to demand that authorities in Belarus respect the rights of their own citizens to express themselves peacefully and to condemn any and all abuses," McClellan said.

He said the United States strongly condemned actions by Belarus' security forces who seized and detained citizens demonstrating against the results of the presidential election.

"The United States calls on authorities in Belarus to release without delay the hundreds of citizens who have been detained not only in the past 24 hours but in recent days and weeks simply for expressing their political views" ...

The Associated Press "White House joins EU in Belarus sanctions" March 24, 2006

The Lukashenka Regime sweeps up the last 689,990 square centimeters of Minsk's reborn Freedom Square and puts it in Europe's last Political Prison.

Also, it is not clear whether the police were rounding up opposition members in the capital in the darkness.

At least 200 opposition members had already been arrested during the week, caught by the police as they left the square and tried to reach their homes.

Photo credits: Photo archives of the National Museum of Belarus, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,, Associated Press, and Agence France Presse; and with special thanks to the individual documentary photographers for the uses of their images.


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