An opposition youth group called Malady Front on October 26 demanded the release and exoneration of all imprisoned opponents of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
In a statement adopted at its convention in Minsk, the unregistered organization accused Mr. Lukashenka of using political prisoners for bargaining with the West. “He can sell his hostages and take new ones tomorrow,” said the statement.
The delegates warned the European Union against softening its policy toward Minsk. “Realizing that attempts at influencing the dictator’s policy are useless, we reserve the right to urge democracies to impose economic sanctions [on the regime] until our associates are released from prison,” said the statement.
The Malady Front members also criticized the European Union’s decision to invite representatives of the Belarusian government to attend an Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius on November 28 and 29.
The organization’s outgoing leader, Zmitser Dashkevich, said that hopes for the evolution of Mr. Lukashenka into a democratic leader would never materialize.
“Malady Front calls on the European Union not to invite dictator Lukashenka or his henchmen to Vilnius until the regime’s political opponents are released from prison and the persecution of the regime’s opponents ends,” he said.
The delegates to the convention described the West’s steps to make overtures to the Belarusian regime as immoral and useless.
Malady Front, which made six unsuccessful attempts to obtain legal status in the past, will no longer apply to the justice ministry for registration, said Mr. Dashkevich.
“Doing so would make no sense, it would be a waste of time and effort,” he told BelaPAN. “In 2006 many of our members were tried for acting on behalf of an unregistered organization, the authorities thought that it would ruin Malady Front. But we saw dozens of young people ready to continue acting.”