News / Europe

First Leader of Belarus Calls for Sanctions Against Lukashenko

Stanislav Shushkevich speaks with VOA at his home in Minsk
Stanislav Shushkevich speaks with VOA at his home in Minsk

The first leader of independent Belarus is calling for sanctions against his successor, Alexander Lukashenko.  

After Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko jailed political rivals immediately after last month's presidential election, Belarussians started talking politics in whispers.  One exception is a stocky man, with the character and bark of a bulldog.

He is Stanislav Shushkevich.  In 1994, he held and lost Belarus's first free presidential election - to Alexander Lukashenko.  Sixteen years later, President Lukashenko rules on, criticized by some as "Europe's last dictator."

Meeting VOA journalists in his apartment overlooking a snowy courtyard in Minsk, Shushkevich leans into a microphone and denounces the Lukashenko government as "criminals in power."

Speaking Russian, with a thick Belorussian accent he says the Lukashenko government is a criminal government, "criminals on the throne who crush their own people and their best representatives."

He says President Lukashenko spends lavishly on police making Belarus a true police state.  He says the ratio is 15 people in uniform for every 1,000 people - 50 percent higher than in Russia.

He charges that President Lukashenko stole the December 19 election and then sent provocateurs to break windows at the end of a peaceful march of 40,000 protesters.

Shushkevich believes that the only way to deal with the Lukashenko government is through sanctions of the type that Washington maintains against the Belarus leadership.

He says the president, a former state manager, has no other career option than to run Belarus and he runs it like a collective farm.

He says his successor can not do anything but govern, that is why he has pathologically clings to power.

A physics and mathematics professor, Shushkevich can speak that way - he has little to lose.

President Lukashenko set the retirement pension of his predecessor at $1.10 a month.  Shushkevich, the first head of Belarus after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has given up appealing before judges appointed by his successor.

To pay the bills at age 76, he works the international university lecture circuit.

The 'super universities' include Yale, Harvard, Columbia and institutions in Russia and Poland.  

Admirers at a Polish university have nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.  They cite his successful effort to rid Belarus of nuclear weapons in the early 1990s when he shipped Soviet era bombs and about 800 rockets to Russia.

Back home, Minsk's dollar-a-month man is shunned by government officials.  He travels largely in diplomatic and opposition circles. He says that in the recent years, Europe betrayed the democracy movement in Belarus, entering into talks with the Lukashenko government, offering credits, and hoping to lure it toward a mainstream democratic path.

Later this month, European foreign ministers are to meet.  Shocked by the beatings and arrests of opposition presidential candidates, the European Union now may follow the sanctions path advocated by Shushkevich.

After Western observers declared the elections a fraud, the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic wrote an essay in the International Herald Tribune, warning that there cannot be 'business as usual' between the European Union and Mr. Lukashenko.

The ministers wrote, "Continued positive engagement with Mr. Lukashenko at the moment seems to be a waste of time and money.  He has made his choice, and it is a choice, against everything the European Union stands for."  

One week after the election, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a note of congratulations to President Lukashenko on winning a fourth term.  But Shushkevich believes Moscow's hold on its western periphery is destined to weaken.  He says the Russian empire has not finished collapsing.

This pensioner in the modest apartment on Masherova street has seen it happen before.  In December 1991, Shushkevich met with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine in a national forest near here and signed the accords that dissolved the Soviet Union.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid