Exiled Belarusians plan a large protest on June 5 at the Belarusian-Polish border and will use the event to call on the European Union to impose more sanctions against the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Demonstrators are expected to gather at the Babrouniki-Berastavitsa border crossing, where they plan to call on the EU to impose “strong and effective sanctions” against Lukashenka’s regime and demand that Belarusian authorities open land borders for citizens of Belarus. Pavel Latushka, the head of the National Anti-Crisis Management (NAU), said the group supports quick actions but fears that the EU will not take real steps to punish Lukashenka’s regime. “We can’t wait for Lukashenka’s regime to commit another crime -- it’s time to move to action,” said Latushka, one of the initiators of the action.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians continue to demand the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka amid a brutal crackdown on protesters. The West refuses to recognize him as the country's legitimate leader after an August 9 election considered fraudulent.
For the first three days, demonstrators plan to hold rallies at the border and tell passersby about the situation in Belarus, the NAU said on Telegram.
If the large-scale sanctions promised by the EU are not adopted in the three days, the participants are going to block the road to the border crossing.
The border protest comes a day after an EU ban on Belarusian carriers accessing EU airports and flying through EU airspace took effect. The EU imposed the ban in response to Minsk’s forced diversion of a passenger flight last month and the arrest of a dissent journalist.
The diversion of the flight and arrest of opposition activist and journalist Raman Pratasevich on May 23 and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, caused an international uproar.
It came amid a sweeping crackdown on the opposition by Lukashenka’s regime. The country has seen unprecedented pro-democracy protests following a disputed August 2020 presidential election that the opposition says was rigged and many Western nations have refused to acknowledge. Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom the opposition believes was the true winner of the election, met with Belarusians living in exile in Poland on June 3 and Polish President Andrzej Duda a day later. Many Poles feel a strong sense of support for the struggle for freedom in Belarus. She expressed gratitude to the Polish people and the government at all levels for supporting the Belarusian struggle against Lukashenka’s regime. Tsikhanouskaya lives in exile in Lithuania.