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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid