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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid