•   
  •   

World US, EU hail Belarus democrats amid Russia protests

00:46  06 february  2021
00:46  06 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

A pro-democracy activist on Hong Kong’s year of turmoil: “The city itself is dying”

  A pro-democracy activist on Hong Kong’s year of turmoil: “The city itself is dying” Joey Siu, an activist featured in a new documentary, talks about the protests and China’s national security crackdown.Starting in June 2019, the city convulsed with protests over a controversial extradition bill. That expanded into a pro-democracy movement that sought to push back against China’s efforts to further erode the city-state’s already tenuous autonomy, and the freedoms that went with it.

As Belarus is roiled by a government crackdown on peaceful demonstrators protesting an election condemned by the international community, a casualty of the unrest may be a nascent diplomatic push by the Trump administration to improve ties with Minsk as part of an effort to counter Russia 's one-time dominant position there.

Belarus ' top diplomat on Wednesday thanked Russia for supporting the Minsk government after the European Union last month slammed elections in Belarus as neither free nor fair. "I would like to express my gratitude to Russia for the sustained, competent Speaking in Moscow at talks with his Russian counterpart, Makei called Russia 's response a "counterweight that restrains external forces from actively interfering with the internal affairs of Belarus ." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the EU 's statements about the "legitimate government of Belarus " as "rather destructive."

The United States and the European Union on Friday hailed demonstrators in Belarus six months after disputed elections, in a message sure to irritate President Vladimir Putin of neighboring Russia.

Blindfolded feminist activists hold photographs of women imprisoned after Belarus presidential elections in a January 2021 rally © Stringer Blindfolded feminist activists hold photographs of women imprisoned after Belarus presidential elections in a January 2021 rally

US President Joe Biden's administration and the Europeans said they backed a "day of solidarity" called for Sunday by Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who believes she defeated President Alexander Lukashenko, an authoritarian ally of Putin, in August.

Thousands took to Russia's streets chanting 'Putin is a thief' in new protests against Alexei Navalny's imprisonment

  Thousands took to Russia's streets chanting 'Putin is a thief' in new protests against Alexei Navalny's imprisonment Protests against the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, continue. Russian police have now detained over 500 people this weekend, according to the OVD-info monitoring group. Navalny spoke from his detention centre in Moscow, telling supporters: "The majority are on our side. Let's wake them up." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Protests against the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, are continuing nationwide for a second weekend.

Belarus has been engulfed by protests ever since the contested presidential election back in August, and whatever happens, it seems things cannot ever just go back to the way they were, with President Alexander Lukashenko ruling indefinitely. Yet the reaction of the West, above all the European Union , differs greatly The real reasons for the EU ’s restraint must be sought elsewhere. The first reason is fairly obvious: Russia ’s position in Belarus is simply far stronger than the EU ’s, and not only in terms of Minsk’s economic dependence on Moscow, the joint integration structures, or the career opportunities

Belarus is gripped by mass protests , triggered by an election widely believed to have been rigged in favour of the long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko. Europe 's longest-serving ruler, President Lukashenko took office in 1994 amid the chaos caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Often described as Europe 's "last dictator", he has tried to preserve elements of Soviet communism. Much of manufacturing has remained under state control, and main media channels have been loyal to the government.

"We continue to be amazed by the exceptional strength, resilience and courage of the Belarusian people in the face of unyielding repression," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"They continue to demand freedom and democracy. The world has been inspired by the people of Belarus, especially Belarusian women peacefully demonstrating for the right to have a voice in Belarus' future," he said.

Price said the United States backed a "peaceful and inclusive dialogue" in Belarus, where demonstrators have kept taking to the streets.

The European Union issued a similar statement, saying that "many thousands" have been detained in Belarus and pointing to "hundreds of documented cases of torture."


Video: EU diplomat tells Russia to free Kremlin critic Navalny at rare talks in Moscow (Reuters)

As Russian Court Hands Navalny Sentence, His Past and Future Stand Trial Too

  As Russian Court Hands Navalny Sentence, His Past and Future Stand Trial Too "I think the problem with Western analysts, especially white ones, is that they tend to get caught up in the euphoria of people like Navalny and ignore his weaker points," Terrell Jermaine Starr, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek. "The West should also be sure we aren't so high on Navalny's courage that we're ignoring his more problematic stances that could blindside us if he ever gains power in Russia.

Russia expelled three European diplomats on Friday, accusing them of taking part in "unauthorized" rallies supportingjailed Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny. The country’s foreign ministry said that "such actions on their part are unacceptable and do not correspond to their diplomatic status." The trio come from Germany, Sweden and Poland. It was unclear which rank they hold in their respective diplomatic missions. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier.

“In Russia , I often see the media saying: ‘Oh, in Belarus , in Belarus …’ But it’s happening right here, on the western border [of Russia ],” Lukashenko told RT in the city of Grodno, where he spoke at a supporters’ rally on Saturday. “ We ’re being pressured, hounded. Myself and Putin have agreed that Belarus has been grappling with large-scale anti-government protests after the opposition accused Lukashenko of rigging the vote in order to secure a sixth term in office on August 9. During the first few days in the wake of the election – which disputed official results say he won with 80 percent of vote

"The European Union continues to stand firmly with the people of Belarus," said a statement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and enlargement coordinator Oliver Varhelyi, promising economic support for a democratic Belarus.

In a recent interview with AFP, Tikhanovskaya said that the "regime will collapse from within" and drew a parallel to protests in Russia led by Alexei Navalny, who was allegedly poisoned last year and was arrested on his return to Moscow last month.

Tikhanovskaya ran for president after her husband was imprisoned after trying to register to run against Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994.

Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania, is calling for elections in which Lukashenko is not a candidate, a proposal rejected by the president.

Biden has vowed to robustly promote democracy and to take a tough line on Russia, drawing a contrast with his predecessor Donald Trump's warm words for Putin.

sct/sst

The debate over whether Democrats should call witnesses at Trump’s trial, explained .
Both parties’ leaders appear to want the trial over quickly.And the question now is whether they will stop there — or whether they will try to advance their case that Trump incited an insurrection further, by asking the Senate to allow testimony from witnesses.

usr: 0
This is interesting!