The German newspaper "Die Welt" has published an article devoted to the situation on the eastern borders of the EU, namely Belarus and Ukraine.
The stability of this region is causing concern in Brussels. According to the publication, in Belarus the people are buying food and foreign currency in droves, and Ukraine is being transformed into an authoritarian state under the new leadership.
In Brussels they are also looking closely at Russia, writes the author of the article, Gerhard Gnauck. Will it rush to provide financial assistance to neighbouring Belarus? Will it grant loans, and what will it ask in return?
It is true, the publication continues, that the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, rejects such speculation and declares that the country will manage without assistance. However, at the same time he has hinted that some opponents of the regime, who were arrested 19 December after mass protests against the falsification of election results, can be released. On that day about 700 people were detained in Minsk.
The commentator recalls that last week, the former presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev was sentenced to two years in prison, and this week sentencing is expected on two of his colleagues and fellows in misfortune, Nikolai Statkevich and Dmitry Us. In addition, since mid-April a reporter of the Polish newspaper, “Gazeta Wyborcza”, has been languishing in a Belarusian jail. He is accused of insulting the president.
All of the above forms the basis for the application of sanctions, it is reckoned in Brussels. They will affect the companies most closely collaborating with the regime of President Lukashenko, but the people, if possible, should not suffer.
Gnauck turns next to Ukraine, where “as a consequence of the exacerbation of repression of the opposition, as well as simultaneous pressure by Russia on the government, political tension is growing.” Last week, the Russian President Medvedev demanded that Kiev should decide whether it wants to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, or to form a free trade zone with the EU. A day later, the Ukrainian Parliament by an absolute majority opted for European integration, reports the German newspaper.
Nevertheless, Brussels continues to be concerned about the situation concerning Ukrainian democracy, the article states in its conclusion. Yulia Timoshenko, the former prime minister, and now a head of the democratic opposition, has been accused of abusing her position. And Yurii Lyutsenko, a former Minister of Internal Affairs, recently went on hunger strike to protest against his arrest, which has lasted many months. Now, notes the publication, it is not worth hoping for a lenient sentence.