US set to keep sanctions against Belarusian regime

The US is not going to cancel the economic sanctions against the Belarusian enterprises if political prisoners Alyaksandr Kazulin, Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim are not released. It has been stated today at a press-conference in Minsk by US Charge d'Affaires Jonathan Moore.

The decision to impose economic sanctions was adopted in the end of the last year, he said, It was caused by the times and situation in Belarus. At the moment the developments are tracked. In January-February the US saw that five political prisoners were released. The US is waiting for release of all Belarusian political prisoners, said Jonathan Moore. He said no changes for the better are expected in the issue of the sanctions if the situation with the political prisoners remains the same.

The US diplomat said that the period of political changes is taking place in the US at the moment. The situation in Belarus has become one of the topics discussed during the pre-election campaign in the US. The steps taken by the Belarusian regime attracted attention of important persons in the US, including candidates for the US presidency.

At today’s press-conference the US Charge d’Affaires has officially announced that Karen Stewart, who left Minsk after the beginning of the conflict in Minsk connected to imposing of the economic sanctions against Belarusian enterprises by the US, has moved to another position.

On August 4 Karen Stewart was officially appointed to the position of the Deputy Secretary of State on Democracy, Human Rights and Labour issues. She won’t return to Belarus as US Ambassador, J. Moore said.

Answering the question whether the US is set to take any steps in connection with the fact that only 4 diplomats are working in Belarus, Jonathan Moore said that as he had mentioned, the US is more concerned about the number of political prisoners in Belarus than the number of the US diplomats in Minsk.

The US diplomat has also touched upon the issue of holding the “parliamentary elections” in Belarus. He underlined that the positions of the US and the EU on the “elections” in Belarus coincide. The head of the US mission reminded that a high delegation from Brussels visited Minsk. It was stated during the visit that evaluation of the elections would depend on their holding, not on their result. The diplomat underlined the importance of registration of oppositional candidates, granting them time on air and a chance to express their opinion in the state-run press; admission of observers to the vote counting process. Jonathan Moore noted that he knows facts of pressure on opposition activists who are taking part in the electoral campaign.

Such behaviour of the authorities behind the scene causes surprise against the background of public statements that the election would be transparent, he noted.