CrisisWatch Belarus

Unchanged Situation

Crackdown on opposition continued, and army conducted military exercises.

Exiled opposition leader called for access to political prisoners amid crackdown. Court in capital Minsk 7 April sentenced opposition politician and 2020 presidential candidate Valer Tsapkala to 17 years in prison in absentia. Another presidential candidate, Viktar Babaryka, sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment in 2021, was reportedly hospitalised late April; EU 27 April expressed concern, pointing to “traces of beatings”, while exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanousvkaya demanded diplomats be given access to political prisoners “to assess the conditions in which they are kept”.

Belarus held military exercises and asked Russia for security guarantees. Defence ministry 5 April announced three-day “tactical exercise” at Polish and Ukrainian borders, 19-22 April conducted further exercises to strengthen air defence, 22 April announced forces had completed training on Russian tactical nuclear missile systems. President Lukashenko 10 April asked Russia for security guarantees amid heightened tensions with West. Meanwhile, Canada 11 April expanded sanctions to include National Bank and eight other banks in Belarus due to its support for “Russia’s illegal invasion” of Ukraine.

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