CrisisWatch Belarus

Unchanged Situation

Military cooperation with Russia continued, authorities began trial in absentia of opposition figures, and govt sought ways to strengthen cooperation with Tajikistan.

Military activities with Russia continued amid fears of more Belarusian support in Ukraine. President Lukashenko 6 Jan visited training ground in south-western Brest region bordering Ukraine where Russian troops are stationed. Defence ministry same day announced arrival of more Russian military equipment and aircrafts. Authorities 16 Jan-1 Feb held joint tactical flight exercises with Russia; govt 15 Jan said drills were “purely defensive” amid growing fears Belarus plans to deepen involvement in Ukraine. Former security official 29 Jan warned army could face mass desertion if Belarus invades Ukraine. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 10 Jan announced new sanctions against Belarus for “role in this Russian war”.

Authorities proceeded with trial in absentia of leading opposition figures. Amid govt’s continued crackdown on dissent, trial in absentia of opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and four associates, indicted among other charges for treason and conspiring to seize power, 17 Jan began in capital Minsk. European Union High Representative Josep Borell same day condemned “fabricated charges” and Belarus’s “brutal persecution” of opposition leaders, while U.S. imposed visa restrictions on 25 officials for continued repression and “politically motivated trials”.

In other important developments. News agency Belta 4 Jan reported that Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin met with Tajik counterpart Sherali Mirzo in Belarus; two reportedly discussed “security matters in the responsibility area of the Collective Security Treaty Organization” and ways to advance bilateral cooperation.

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In The News

2 Oct 2020
Sanctions send a signal to Belarus and the international community of EU states’ frustration with a fraudulent election. Bloomberg

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia

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