Motion for a resolution - B9-0164/2023Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on further repression against the people of Belarus, in particular the cases of Andrzej Poczobut and Ales Bialiatski

8.3.2023 - (2023/2573(RSP))

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

Sandra Kalniete, Michael Gahler, Rasa Juknevičienė, Željana Zovko, David McAllister, Andrius Kubilius, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, Vladimír Bilčík, Tomasz Frankowski, Andrzej Halicki, Arba Kokalari, Andrey Kovatchev, David Lega, Miriam Lexmann, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Liudas Mažylis, Radosław Sikorski, Milan Zver
on behalf of the PPE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0164/2023

Procedure : 2023/2573(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Debates :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on further repression against the people of Belarus, in particular the cases of Andrzej Poczobut and Ales Bialiatski


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

 having regard to the European Council conclusions of 21-22 October 2021,

 having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell of 25 March 2021 on targeting the Union of Poles in Belarus and of 17 January 2023 on the trials against opposition leaders and journalists,

 having regard to the G7 Foreign Ministers’ statement of 4 November 2022 on Belarus,

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

A. whereas the Belarusian regime has continued its acts of repression against the people of Belarus, with civil society representatives, human rights defenders, journalists, opposition activists and many others being persecuted for political reasons; whereas criminal prosecution remains one of the most severe forms of repression and is still widespread;

B. whereas, as of March 2023, there are more than 1 450 people on the list of Belarusian political prisoners maintained by the Viasna Human Rights Centre; whereas 69 names were added to the list in February 2023; whereas Viasna is aware of at least 2 900 people who have been convicted in politically motivated criminal cases;

C. whereas arbitrary arrests of individuals for exercising their civil rights continue; whereas Viasna reported 258 such arrests in February 2023, as well as 195 cases of politically motivated administrative persecutions; whereas judges handed down 31 terms of administrative imprisonment and 11 fines in the same period;

D. whereas Ales Bialiatski, a prominent human rights defender and founder of the Viasna Human Rights Centre, was arrested on 12 February 2022 and was held in pre-trial detention; whereas his politically motivated trial began on 5 January 2023 and concluded on 3 March 2023 with him being sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony and a heavy fine; whereas he was found guilty of ‘smuggling’ and ‘grossly violating public order’;

E. whereas Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist and the deputy chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus, was arrested on 25 March 2021 and was later sentenced to three years in prison on charges of ‘publicly insulting the President of Belarus’ and ‘inciting ethnic hatred’; whereas on 8 February 2023, the Hrodna Regional Court found him guilty of encouraging actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus and inciting ethnic hostility, and sentenced him to eight years’ imprisonment in an enhanced-security penal colony;

F. whereas the charges against Andrzej Poczobut and Ales Bialiatski are widely considered to be politically motivated and aimed at silencing independent voices and suppressing freedom of expression and association;

G. whereas Belarusian democratic political forces continue to be persecuted; whereas on 17 January 2023, the politically motivated trial in absentia of the head of the United Transitional Cabinet, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and of members of the Coordination Council, including Maryia Maroz, Volha Kavalkova, Pavel Latushka and Siarhei Dyleuski, began; whereas on 6 March 2023, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Pavel Latushka to 18 years in prison and Maryia Maroz, Volha Kavalkova and Siarhei Dyleuski to 12 years in prison;

H. whereas the authorities in Belarus have repeatedly violated the human rights of Belarusian citizens, including their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; whereas repression continues to affect all sectors of society, including academia, the media and human rights defenders; whereas the persecution of individuals continues under the guise of combating extremism and terrorism;

I. whereas political prisoners are subjected to additional repression; whereas this takes the form of holding political prisoners in conditions that are prohibited according to the international obligations of Belarus, subjecting them to disciplinary penalties for bogus reasons, placing them in punishment cells, upgrading the security level for some political prisoners and arbitrarily extending their term of imprisonment, violating political prisoners’ right to correspondence and depriving them of family visits on far-fetched pretexts;

J. whereas the regime has continued its acts of repression against lawyers in retaliation for expressing views on rights issues, representing clients in politically motivated cases, and speaking out against the war in Ukraine; whereas since August 2020, at least 70 attorneys have lost their licences following arbitrary decisions by the Justice Ministry or politically motivated disbarment procedures; whereas in 2022, seven attorneys faced politically motivated criminal charges and continued to face administrative charges, detentions, searches and harassment;

K. whereas the Belarusian authorities continue to adopt measures restricting the rights of Belarusians living abroad; whereas, in 2022 and 2023, 58 people were arrested after returning to Belarus for their participation in the 2020 protests or for sharing content deemed ‘extremist’ on social media;

L. whereas the Lukashenka regime has taken increasingly repressive measures against the national minorities in Belarus, in particular the Polish minority, including the closure of schools teaching in this national minority language, as well as against organisations representing the Polish minority, such as the Union of Poles in Belarus; whereas the Lukashenka regime is distorting historical truth and memory by disseminating lies about alleged atrocities committed against Belarusians during World War II and immediately afterwards by the Polish Underground; whereas systematic discrimination against the Polish national minority has been going on for many years;

M. whereas on 1 March 2023, the official office of democratic Belarus was opened in Brussels in a ceremony attended by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya;

N. whereas the illegitimate regime continues to suppress the freedom of religion and belief; whereas the regime banned worship in Minsk’s New Life Church and detained the church’s pastor Viachaslau Hancharenka, as well as the pastor Antoni Bokun; whereas on 26 September 2022, Minsk Heritage, the building agency that has control of the Red Catholic Church building, ordered the parish to remove all its property from the building following a fire in unexplained circumstances;

O. whereas according to the Coordination Council, in 2022 alone, eight Roman Catholic priests, three Greek Catholic priests, six Orthodox priests and seven Protestant pastors faced various forms of pressure from the illegitimate regime, ranging from fines to long terms of imprisonment, including Siarhei Rezanovich, who was sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment in a penal colony under strict conditions; whereas political prisoners are systematically denied access to religious literature and visits by priests or pastors;

P. whereas on 7 September 2022, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe invited the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to set up a Contact Group on Belarus in cooperation with representatives of Belarusian democratic forces and civil society;

1. Reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Belarus who continue to stand up for a sovereign, free and democratic Belarus, risking their freedom and, more and more frequently, their lives, and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and all persons arbitrarily detained, arrested or sentenced on politically motivated grounds, and for all charges against them to be dropped, as well as for their full rehabilitation and financial compensation for the damages incurred as a result of their illegitimate detention; demands an end to state violence;

2. Continues to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the ongoing repression of civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and political activists in Belarus, including through politically motivated trials; condemns the Lukashenka regime’s systematic repression against civilians, which has forced thousands of Belarusians to flee the country since the stolen elections of 9 August 2020; reiterates that the ongoing campaign of systematic repression and the forced displacement of civilians amount to grave violations of human rights;

3. Condemns the detention and sentencing of Andrzej Poczobut and Ales Bialiatski; denounces the numerous violations of their right to a fair trial and calls for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as their full rehabilitation and compensation;

4. Denounces the fact that politically motivated trials are held behind closed doors and without due process of law, thereby breaching the country’s international obligations and commitments, resulting in the harsh and unjustified sentences handed down to opposition leaders;

5. Condemns the persecution of the Polish national minority in Belarus and of its representatives; calls on the Belarusian authorities to cease all measures taken against the Polish national minority and to respect its rights, including the right to education in Polish;

6. Reiterates its strong condemnation of Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine and of the support it provides, including through the so-called referendum that reinstates the country’s nuclear status, but also by allowing the movement of troops and weapons, the usage of the country’s airspace, refuelling and the storage of military ammunition; recognises that Belarus is an accomplice in state sponsorship of terrorism and an accomplice of a state which uses means of terrorism;

7. Condemns the belligerent rhetoric used by Belarusian leaders against Ukraine and the massive spread of propaganda and disinformation about the war of aggression; reiterates that Lukashenka and other Belarusian officials share responsibility for war crimes committed in Ukraine and should be held accountable in the appropriate international courts and the proposed special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine; expresses its support to the Belarusian volunteers and partisans fighting for Belarus’ independence and helping Ukraine in its defence against the Russian war of aggression;

8. Calls for the EU and its Member States to strengthen the EU sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the systematic repression in Belarus, to ensure their proper enforcement and to address loopholes in the implementation of the sanctions; calls for all sanctions issued against Russia in respect of the war of aggression against Ukraine to be strictly mirrored for Belarus;

9. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide support and protection to human rights defenders and civil society in Belarus, who will be facing a severe crackdown, including by issuing emergency visas to leave Belarus if needed;

10. Calls on the Commission to enhance capacity-building support to Belarus’ independent trade unions, free media, civil society and pro-democracy activists both in Belarus and in exile; calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue to provide support to Belarusian civil society, the independent media and the democratic political groups and structures, including the Coordination Council and the United Transitional Cabinet; calls on Belarusian democratic forces to maintain and promote unity in pursuit of their objective of a free, democratic and independent Belarus;

11. Underlines the need for a comprehensive investigation into the crimes committed by the Lukashenka regime against the people of Belarus; calls on the Member States to actively apply the universal jurisdiction principle and prepare court cases against Belarusian officials responsible for or complicit in systematic violence and repression and crimes against humanity, including Aliaksandr Lukashenka;

12. Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the European External Action Service to cooperate with international partners, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Moscow Mechanism and the UN Human Rights Council, as well as human rights defenders and civil society on the ground, to ensure the monitoring, documentation and reporting of human rights violations and subsequent accountability and justice for victims;

13. Calls for the EU institutions to take all necessary action in international institutions and proceedings and at the International Criminal Court or other appropriate international tribunals or courts to support the investigation and prosecution of the actions related to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine perpetrated by those politically responsible in Belarus, in particular Aliaksandr Lukashenka, as war crimes and crimes against humanity;

14. Calls on the Commission to establish a task force that will open a policy dialogue with the representatives of democratic Belarus in order to work on a comprehensive multi-sectoral agreement that will be the foundation of cooperation with a democratic Belarus once the current regime is no longer in power; reiterates that this should be coupled with a financial and administrative resource plan, which should be implemented in order to carry out and finance the necessary reforms in the country once this is possible; underlines the importance of the newly created office of democratic Belarus in Brussels, which should serve as an important de facto diplomatic mission;

15. Reiterates the importance of formalising the relationship between Belarusian democratic forces and Parliament in order to strengthen Belarusian representation on the international scene and in the work of international organisations; underlines, in this regard, the establishment of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus and the Coordination Council as trusted and constructive partners in addressing the challenges affecting regional and bilateral EU-Belarus relations; calls, therefore, for the renewed participation of official democratic representatives of Belarus in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and the Delegation for relations with Belarus;

16. Reiterates its condemnation of the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Belarusian athletes to compete in qualifications for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games under a neutral flag, which runs counter to the international community’s multifaceted isolation of Belarus and will be used by the regime for propaganda purposes; calls on the Member States and the international community to exert pressure on the IOC to reverse this decision, which is an embarrassment to the international world of sport, and to adopt a similar position on any other sporting, cultural or scientific events;

17. 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, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the authorities of the Republic of Belarus, and the representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition.



Last updated: 9 March 2023
Legal notice - Privacy policy