A defiant President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) mentioned on Monday (9 August) a Belarusian sprinter defected on the Olympic Video games solely as a result of she had been “manipulated” by exterior forces and shrugged off a coordinated barrage of latest Western sanctions, write Natalia Zinets, William James and Elizabeth Piper.
At an hours-long information convention on the anniversary of an election which opponents mentioned was rigged in order that he might win, Lukashenko denied being a dictator and mentioned he had defended Belarus in opposition to opponents plotting a coup.
As he spoke in his presidential palace in Minsk, Britain, Canada and the US introduced coordinated sanctions focusing on the Belarusian financial system and its monetary sector, together with exports of oil merchandise and potash, which is utilized in fertilisers and is Belarus’ predominant international forex earner.
Lukashenko mentioned Britain would “choke” on its measures and he was prepared for talks with the West as an alternative of a sanctions struggle.
Lukashenko mentioned he had received the presidential election pretty on Aug. 9, 2020 and that some individuals had been “getting ready for a good election, whereas others have been calling … for a coup d’état.”
Tens of 1000’s of individuals joined avenue protests in 2020 – Lukashenko’s greatest problem since he grew to become president in 1994. He responded with a crackdown through which many opponents have been arrested or gone into exile. They deny planning a coup.
Dismissing accusations that he’s a dictator, he mentioned: “To be able to dictate – I’m a very sane individual – you have to have the suitable assets. I’ve by no means dictated something to anybody and I’m not going to.”
Belarus has once more been within the worldwide highlight since sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya fled to Warsaw final week following a dispute together with her coaches through which she mentioned an order got here from “excessive up” to ship her house from Tokyo. Learn extra.
“She would not do it herself, she was manipulated. It was from Japan, from Tokyo, that she contacted her buddies in Poland and so they informed her – actually – if you come to the airport, run to a Japanese police officer and shout that those that dropped her off on the airport are KGB brokers,” Lukashenko mentioned.
“There was not a single particular service agent in Japan.”
Lukashenko, 66, has stored energy with political help and monetary backing from Russia, which sees Belarus as a buffer state in opposition to the NATO navy alliance and the European Union.
Belarus would reply if essential to sanctions stress however “there isn’t a have to take up the sanction axes and pitchforks,” he mentioned.
Western international locations asserting sanctions cited violations of human rights and election fraud. US President Joe Biden decried what he known as a “brutal marketing campaign of repression to stifle dissent”.
“…The actions of the Lukashenka regime are an illegitimate effort to carry on to energy at any value. It’s the accountability of all those that care about human rights, free and truthful elections, and freedom of expression to face in opposition to this oppression,” Biden mentioned.
Biden’s government order permits the US to dam individuals doing enterprise with a variety of Belarusian officers and others concerned in actions within the nation considered corrupt. It additionally restricts the switch of their property in the US and their journey to the nation.
The British sanctions additionally prohibited the acquisition of transferable securities and money-market devices issued by the Belarusian state and state-owned banks. Canada unveiled related motion.
Earlier sanctions, together with by the EU, haven’t persuaded Lukashenko to vary course. Learn extra.
“Whereas we take it with persistence, let’s sit down on the negotiating desk and begin speaking about learn how to get out of this example, as a result of we’ll get slowed down in it with no means again,” Lukashenko mentioned.
Tensions with Western powers hit new heights after Belarus pressured a airplane to land in Minsk in Might and arrested a dissident Belarusian journalist who was on board.
Individually, neighbouring Lithuania and Poland accuse Belarus of attempting to engineer a migrant disaster in retaliation for EU sanctions. Learn extra.
Poland reported a file variety of migrants had crossed the border from Belarus since Friday, saying they have been most likely from Iraq and Afghanistan. Learn extra.
Lukashenko says Lithuania and Poland are in charge.
He additionally denied involvement within the dying final week of Vitaly Shishov, who led a Kyiv-based organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution. Shishov was discovered hanged in Kyiv.
Lukashenko’s opponents say there are actually greater than 600 political prisoners in jail.
“Sanctions usually are not a silver bullet, however they may assist cease the repression,” exiled Belarusian opposition chief Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya mentioned in Vilnius.