Sanctions against Belarus should be broadened, the European Parliament said in a resolution Thursday in response to what it described as violations of media freedom in that former Soviet state.
In a nonbinding resolution, Parliament condemned what it called "indiscriminate attacks" on media freedom under the government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994.
These have included "arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment of detainees, disappearances and politically motivated persecution," Parliament said.
The resolution urged the executive European Commission and European Union member governments to create a support program for independent journalists. It also envisioned a possible ban on visas for Belarus officials implicated in abridging press freedoms.
In Minsk, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ruslan Yesin, dismissed the resolution.
"When issues of fighting terrorism are center stage throughout the world, some parliamentarians still discuss the affairs of a country with a stable political and socioeconomic system," he said.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.