Motion for a resolution - B9-0340/2021Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by Belarusian authorities

7.6.2021 - (2021/2741(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Petras Auštrevičius, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Vlad Gheorghe, Klemen Grošelj, Karin Karlsbro, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Nathalie Loiseau, Karen Melchior, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Ramona Strugariu, Dragoş Tudorache, Hilde Vautmans
on behalf of the Renew Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0328/2021

Procedure : 2021/2741(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on systematic repression in Belarus and its consequences for European security following abductions from an EU civilian plane intercepted by Belarusian authorities


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

 having regard to the European Council conclusions on Belarus of 24 May 2021,

 having regard to the communiqué of European Council President Charles Michel on the incident involving a forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May 2021,

 having regard to the declaration by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU of 24 May 2021 on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021,

 having regard to the joint statement by the G7 foreign ministers and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 27 May 2021 on Belarus,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all human rights conventions to which Belarus is a party,

 having regard to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation,

 having regard to the awarding of the European Parliament’s 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas on 23 May 2021 Ryanair flight FR4978, an international passenger flight from Athens to Vilnius, while in Belarusian airspace, was forcefully diverted on the orders of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and was escorted by a Belarusian fighter jet to Minsk National Airport based on the false pretence of a bomb threat, jeopardising the safety of the passengers and crew on board the flight;

B. whereas in Minsk, two of its passengers, journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega, were arrested by the authorities;

C. whereas Raman Pratasevich is a Belarusian journalist and activist, and one of the former editors of the influential Telegram channel Nexta, which played a pivotal role in informing the population about the abuses committed by the authorities and in mobilising protests in Belarus; whereas Raman Pratasevich had been living in exile since 2019 to avoid fabricated criminal charges and had been granted political asylum in Lithuania;

D. whereas following the Ryanair incident, Russia has agreed to release a delayed USD 500 million loan to Belarus and has criticised the EU’s measures;

E. whereas on 18 May 2021 Belarusian authorities raided the offices of, the largest independent Belarusian news site, arrested its staff and blocked its website;

F. whereas more than 34 000 Belarusian are estimated to have been detained at some point for protesting against the regime, before and after the elections of 9 August 2020; whereas there are over 450 political prisoners in Belarus;

G. whereas the Belarusian authorities have continued their repression against the peaceful Belarusian people, with many citizens being harassed, arrested and convicted for expressing opposition to the regime or to the widespread human rights violations taking place in Belarus;

H. whereas human rights defenders have documented hundreds of cases of torture and ill-treatment, while several people are missing or were found dead; whereas inhumane treatment, torture and deliberate refusal to provide medical care continue in Belarusian detention centres and prisons, where several protesters, such as Vitold Ashurak, died, while others, such as 17-year-old Dzmitry Stakhouski and Stsiapan Latypou, were harassed and threatened to the point of attempting to commit suicide;

I. whereas on 25 May 2021 European Belarus activists Yauhen Afnahel, Pavel Yukhnevich, Maksim Viniarski and Andrei Voinich, opposition leader Pavel Seviarynets, blogger Dzmitry Kazlou, and community activist Iryna Shchasnaya were sentenced to up to seven years in prison on fabricated ‘extremism’ charges; whereas on 2 June 2021 political prisoner Dzmitry Furmanau, together with Yauhen Raznichenka and Uladzimir Kniha, were sentenced to up to four years in prison in what is known as the ‘Tsikhanouski case’; whereas on 3 June 2021 the court convicted a fifth group of defendants, consisting of the political prisoners Aliaksandr Khrapko, Radzivon Medusheuski, Ihar Vinakurau, Andrei Aniskevich, Alena Loika, Halina Chuhunova, Andrei Niamirski, Dzmitry Kurhanau, Katsiaryna Smirnova, Mikita Uvarau, Safiya Nisht, Siarhei Ksenzhuk and Illia Palkhouski, in the ‘dancing protest trial’ by handing down sentences between 18 months of home confinement to one year in prison; whereas on 3 June 2021 political prisoner Siarhei Piarfiliyeu was sentenced to two years of imprisonment and his son Stanislau Piarfiliyeu to two years of restricted freedom (home confinement);

J. whereas the Belarusian authorities are continuing their crackdown and harassment of independent Belarusian journalists and engaging in deliberate attempts to hamper objective reporting;

K. whereas according to the Belarusian Students’ Association, an independent student union, more than 460 students have been detained, almost a third of whom are women, and more than 150 students have been arbitrarily expelled from universities, with many fleeing to neighbouring countries fearful for their safety;

L. whereas the Belarusian authorities have further tightened the already strict rules limiting Belarusian citizens’ ability to exit the country, including those that have long-term residency permits abroad;

M. whereas Belarus started the commercial operation of the Astravyets nuclear power plant without addressing all the safety recommendations contained in the 2018 EU stress test report, and as a result the Astravyets NPP is unsafe and poses serious nuclear safety threats to all Europe;

N. whereas the European Union has so far imposed sanctions against 7 entities and 88 Belarusian individuals, including Aliaksandr Lukashenka;

1. Strongly condemns the 23 May hijacking and forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in Minsk and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion, Sofia Sapega;

2. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega, as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus;

3. Welcomes the Council’s decision to strengthen existing restrictive measures by introducing a ban on Belarusian carriers of all kinds from entering EU airspace and accessing EU airports; stresses that the precondition for the effectiveness of the EU response is determined by the extent to which EU sanctions target key Belarusian state-owned enterprises;

4. Calls on the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Aviation Safety Agency to investigate and take the appropriate measures regarding this unacceptable incident, which challenges international norms and standards; calls on Ryanair to cooperate and share with the authorities all the relevant information regarding this incident;

5. Calls on the Council to extend as soon as possible the lists of persons and entities under EU sanctions by including individuals and entities involved in the hijacking and forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 and the detention of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega;

6. Urges the Council to proceed with utmost urgency with the fourth package of sanctions against individuals and entities who took part in or were complicit in electoral fraud or the subsequent human rights violations in Belarus, including the persecution of independent journalists and bloggers, and to begin work on a subsequent package; calls for the sanctioning of prosecutors, judges and law-enforcement employees who play a role in the repression and wrongful conviction of regime critics;

7. Calls on the Council to additionally adopt targeted economic sanctions, focusing on public and private companies supporting and funding the Lukashenka regime; calls for the EU to coordinate its measures with the United States, the G7 partners and other like-minded democracies; encourages a coordinated EU action of solidarity to offset the economic hardships for the Member States most affected by the economic sanctions on Belarus;

8. Stresses that although the EU’s best chances to properly deal with unlawful states is through sanctions-mechanisms, the EU, in addition to sanctions on Belarusian state-owned enterprises, should utilise existing internal pressures in Belarus by supporting Belarusian civil society;

9. Calls on the Member States to improve their cooperation on intelligence matters regarding the crisis in Belarus and to expel known and suspected Belarusian intelligence officers active across the Union;

10. Calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to increase their efforts to tackle the substantial cigarette smuggling from Belarus into the EU, which provides funds to the Lukashenka regime;

11. Calls on the European External Action Service, the Commission and the Member States’ national diplomatic representations in Belarus to closely monitor the situation of individual political prisoners in Belarus, including that of Raman Pratasevich, to offer them support and to work to secure their release;

12. Condemns the harsh and unjust court sentences recently given out to numerous political prisoners and detainees, including opposition leader Pavel Seviarynets, and the trials against democratic Belarus opposition figures such as Viktar Babaryka, Mikola Statkevich and Siarhei Tsikhanouski;

13. Continues to support the people of Belarus in their legitimate demands and aspirations for free and fair elections, fundamental freedoms and human rights, democratic representation, political participation and dignity;

14. Supports the organisation of a high-level political conference on the resolution of the crisis and the future of a democratic Belarus – the Conference on a Democratic Transformation in Belarus – led by the EU and attended by leaders of like-minded democratic nations, which would send a strong signal of support to the Belarusian people;

15. Calls for an immediate halt to the violence and the repression, torture and ill-treatment of Belarusians; calls for the immediate and unconditional release and dropping of all charges against all persons detained for political reasons;

16. Condemns the suppression of the media and access to the internet, as well as the beating, arrest and intimidation of journalists and bloggers; underscores the right of the people of Belarus to have unhindered access to information;

17. Condemns the recent measures taken by the Belarusian authorities that banned most Belarusian citizens from leaving the country, including many foreign residency permit holders;

18. Rejects the inacceptable threats of Aliaksandr Lukashenka that the Belarusian authorities will not stop irregular migrants and drug trafficking and expresses its concern regarding the increase in irregular migration from Belarus into the EU and about the potential involvement of Belarusian authorities in this phenomenon; calls on the Member States and EU institutions to follow developments in these areas and take the appropriate measures;

19. Condemns the misuse by the Belarusian leadership of law-enforcement authorities for political purposes; calls on Interpol to immediately and thoroughly review current and future requests made by Belarus and to take all appropriate measures to prevent Belarus from misusing Interpol for political purposes;

20. Underlines the need for a comprehensive investigation into the crimes committed by the Lukashenka regime against the people of Belarus;

21. Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the EU Member States to increase the direct support to the Belarusian opposition, civil society and independent media; welcomes in this context the outline for a EUR 3 billion comprehensive plan of economic support to a future democratic Belarus presented by the Commission; calls on the Commission and the Council to further develop and promote this plan and communicate clearly that once democratic change happens in Belarus, the EU will be ready to provide tangible assistance to put the country on a path of reform and modernisation;

22. Calls on the EU to coordinate with the United States, the G7 partners and other like-minded democracies to freeze cooperation with Lukashenka’s public sector and reorient the cooperation with Belarusian civil society and Belarusian private companies outside the scope of the regime;

23. Encourages the Member States to further facilitate the procedures for obtaining visas and residence for those fleeing Belarus for political reasons or for those who require medical treatment as a result of violence perpetrated against them, and to offer them and their families the necessary support and assistance;

24. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to offer scholarships to Belarusian students and scholars expelled from universities and imprisoned for their pro-democratic stance;

25. Welcomes the establishment of the International Accountability Platform for Belarus and calls for the EU institutions and Member States to support its functioning; commits to the effective functioning of the European Parliament’s Platform on the fight against impunity in Belarus and to coordinating a timely international reaction to developments in Belarus;

26. Welcomes the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decision to suspend the Belarusian broadcaster BTRC’s EBU membership; calls for the suspension of Belarus from international sport bodies and international sports events, including European and world championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo;

27. Encourages its President to restrict access to the European Parliament for the staff of the Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, including physical and remote access to meetings hosted by the European Parliament, and to review Parliament’s communication with the Embassy of Belarus;

28. Stresses the importance of addressing the nuclear safety threats posed by Astravyets NPP, insists that Belarus engage on the nuclear safety of Astravyets NPP in complete transparency and commit to full implementation of the recommendations of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) peer review of the plant, and supports banning imports of energy from the Astravyets NPP into the EU market;

29. Calls for the EU not to hesitate, by acting swiftly and proactively; stresses that failing to do so would not only worsen the situation for the people of Belarus, but also serve as a failure with respect to the EU’s geopolitical ambition in the world;

30. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the authorities of the Republic of Belarus.


Last updated: 8 June 2021
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