With increasing fear of repression in between Belarusians Following the arrest of an opposition journalist whose plane was forcibly flown to Minsk, those who want to leave the country feel increasingly isolated.
The country’s land borders used to be severely restricted and there are still limited restrictions European Union Has banned flights to Belarus after directing a passenger plane Minsk Earlier this week, authorities arrested an opposition journalist who was there.
It confronts opposition Belarusians with few options to break free from the tyranny of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Canada advises airline operators to refrain from Belarusian airspace after journalist arrest
“Closing the borders turns Belarus into a rotten safe. We are becoming hostages.”
“Authorities have stepped up their crackdown in recent months to provoke an atmosphere of fear,” he told the Associated Press.
Hatsura-Yaverska said most of her friends and colleagues had been arrested, searched and brutally beaten, and many had fled Belarus.
He spent 10 days in prison after a photo exhibition of medical workers suffering from the coronavirus, which authorities decided to turn to the opposition. He faces charges that could land him in prison for up to three years.
Lukashenko, the former Soviet leader of more than 9.3 million people for more than a quarter of a century, has faced unprecedented protests since being re-elected for a sixth term in the August 2020 election. He responded to the protests with a fierce attack that arrested more than 35,000 people and beat thousands.
Trudeau condemns arrest of Belarusian journalist on Ryanair flight, calling it “attack on democracy”
Hatsura-Yaverska said that following his arrest last month, he was placed in a cold ice cell for two days without a mattress and had to wake up every two hours for one night.
Authorities released him after 10 days on condition that he “did not leave the city until the criminal investigation” on charges of “organizing acts of public disorder.”
“Who would want to stay in such a country?” He said over the phone. “The authorities have divided all citizens into loyalists and enemies, and they agree with us.”
Hatsura-Yaverska, a Ukrainian man, was ordered to leave Belarus with his 9-year-old son and was detained for 10 years upon his return.
“They used my son to blackmail me. They beat me during interrogations and threatened to imprison me and eventually deport me,” Vladimir Yavorsky told the AP in Kiev. “I could not imagine seeing myself in hell in the middle of Europe. Belarus is right in front of our eyes and millions of Belarusians are being taken hostage. “
He communicates with his wife via the Internet, but fears that Belarusian authorities will tighten control.
“The public outcry has continued, and so the authorities … are closing everything they can – borders, organizations and websites,” he said. “They are turning Belarus into a scorched earth.”
The United Nations has launched an investigation into a deviated flight carrying a Belarusian journalist
Belarus tightened restrictions on its land border in December. Those who want to cross must explain their reason, such as work, medical care or education, and can only do so once every six months.
On Sunday, Ryanair flew from Greece to Lithuania with opposition journalist Raman Pratasovich after Belarusian flight controllers told the jet crew that they had been threatened by a bomb. Authorities later arrested Pratasovich, who was running a channel on a messaging program used to stage demonstrations against Lukashenko.
EU leaders have condemned it for air piracy and responded by blocking Belarusian transport from the bloc’s airspace and airports.
“The air embargo has not only hurt the regime, it has hurt its opponents who want to leave the country,” said Artem Schreiman, an independent political analyst based in Minsk.
While Belarusian carriers are banned from EU airspace, they are allowed to fly to other destinations.
After arriving in Tbilisi, Georgia, flying from Belarus, a man said, “People are trying to leave and those who can go to Europe are trying.”
A passenger who asked to be known only by his first name, Anatoly, for fear of retaliation, said the deviation of Ryanair flight had deepened his concern about the route to his country, noting that “people cannot guarantee their future. “They can guarantee the future of their children.”
Alena, another Belarusian traveler who also asked not to be named, said people with the financial means to leave Belarus were trying to do so amid what the government described as a “brutal” response to the protests. , Do.
Lithuania bans incoming and outgoing flights using Belarusian airspace, says Belarus ‘unsafe’ for citizens
Svetlana Sikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in the August vote, called on the European Union to increase sanctions and ban Belarus from Interpol and the International Civil Aviation Organization to increase pressure on the Lukashenko regime.
But he also called for the country’s land borders to be open.
“I understand the EU’s decision to suspend flights over Belarus because it is a matter of security for all Europeans,” said Tsikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania immediately after the election under pressure from the government. “We want to open the land border for free travel for Belarusian citizens, because we can not allow the regime to turn our country into a prison for 9 million people.”
© 2021 Canadian Press
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