9th Mar 2021


What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

  • 'Without Russia's support ... Belarusian people would have gotten rid of him already', one taxi driver said (Photo: Natalia Rak/Flickr)

There is a wealth of expert commentary on what the EU should be doing to help end the Belarus crisis in a peaceful way.

Diplomats have also held dozens of meetings in the EU Council to discuss tactics since the rigged elections on 9 August prompted mass protests.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Should Europe blacklist president Alexander Lukashenko and hundreds of his cronies the way it did in 2011, or would that feed his propaganda on outside interference?

Should it impose economic sanctions to starve the regime of money, or would that push Belarus into Russian vassaldom?

There are no easy answers.

But EUobserver also reached out to ordinary Belarusians to see what they think.

The four people who responded asked to remain anonymous due to fears for their safety.

"I think not only Lukashenko, but absolutely all security officials and managers should fall under sanctions because they have behaved so inappropriately," one 25-year old woman, who is a housewife, told EUobserver.

The EU should also help to counter Russian disinformation, which has denigrated the peaceful nature and native authenticity of the pro-democracy protesters, she indicated.

"It hurts me that Russia is telling lies about us on TV, even if I personally don't care about it and I don't think it [Russian propaganda] will change anything," she said.

"Of course, it's a pity that no sanctions have been imposed on Lukashenko [yet]," a 31-year old Belarusian man and apps developer told this website.

"But this does not greatly affect the picture as a whole ... He [Lukashenko] was under these personal sanctions for most of his life, so I'm sure he has worked out schemes for how to live with that," he said.

"Our 'grandfather' doesn't care about sanctions," he added, using a popular nickname for the dictator.

"What we need is something more active. For example, let's declare him a wanted man using Interpol," the apps developer said, referring to the international police agency in France, which can issue so-called 'red notice' alerts for member countries to arrest and extradite criminals when they travel overseas.

"Sanctions would be an admission of his [Lukashenko's] outcast status - a symbolic act, which I support in general," a 35-year old Belarusian woman, who declined to give her profession, also told EUobserver.

"But this is a dead end if a person [Lukashenko] doesn't care what his neighbours think of him," she said.

"European solidarity is important to us, but perhaps there's some other way to influence the outcome of the situation, instead of just imitating previous actions," she added.

Meanwhile, a 28-year old Belarusian taxi driver had even less faith in EU blacklists.

"Sanctions will not change anything," he said.

And for him, the EU was missing the point by trying to exert pressure on the Belarusian regime, while doing nothing on Russia, on which Lukashenko depended both financially and in security terms.

"Europe needs to press on Russia," the taxi driver told EUobserver.

"With or without sanctions, they [Belarusian authorities] are ready to start shooting at us, just to stay in power, and Russia is helping them," he added.

"Without Russia's support for Lukashenko, Belarusian people would have gotten rid of him already," he said.


Belarus: Where's the EU when you need it?

It has been 81 days since the first police cosh hit the first skull in Belarus and president Alexander Lukashenko has still not paid any EU price.


Belarus - dictators win when democracies appease

The sincere and simple personality of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, currently the most famous Belarusian opposition leader in the world, is truly fascinating, writes Lithuania's minister of foreign affairs, Linas Linkevičius.

News in Brief

  1. EU industry lobbies for 'double' CO2 perks
  2. Italy passes 100,000 corona deaths, and it's not over
  3. Mask-buying affairs embarrass Germany's top party
  4. EU talks on Kosovo and Serbia mark 10-year anniversary
  5. Ex-PM says Erdoğan pulling Turkey away from EU
  6. Report: EU to blacklist Myanmar conglomerates
  7. Suspected Chinese hackers hit EU banking regulator
  8. Belgium: Political pressure to abandon curfew


Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.


Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Von der Leyen on vaccines: 'We're tired of being the scapegoat'
  2. Ethiopia: Time to tell the truth, Ambassador
  3. EU Commission 'surprised' by Belgian travel ban extension
  4. Lack of legal clarity on EU 'pushbacks' of migrants at sea
  5. Africa and Arab world still in vaccine race starting blocks
  6. Frontex's 'serious incident reports' - revealed
  7. Women hit 'disproportionately' hard by Covid-19, report finds
  8. EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us