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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs