Lukashenko ready to send political prisoners to the West

Aleksandr Lukashenko (AFP Photo / Belta / Pool / Gennady Semyonov)
The Belarusian president will “buy a ticket tomorrow” for all political prisoners in the country if Western states are willing to accommodate them.

­This is not an issue for Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko said during a working trip to the city of Shklov in Mogilev Region on Thursday. The West may take political prisoners if it is so concerned about them, he said. The president promised to take a decision and send them all in one wagon, “including those who are free today and making a humming noise in the [public] squares.”

Lukashenko was referring to those participating in the Revolution Through Social Networks, which is currently unfolding in Belarus. Silent protesters take to the main streets and squares, expressing their dissatisfaction with the current economic and political situation just by standing, walking or clapping.

The Belarusian leader said he was even ready even to expel the protesters “in a flash” by plane if the West wanted them. At the same time, he noted that in accordance with the law, there are no political prisoners in Belarus. He recalled that some 600 people had been detained during protest rallies following the presidential election in December last year. About 30 of them were sentenced by the courts for organizing riots or public disorder, he noted.  

Belarus is not refusing to take part in consultations as proposed by Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Lukashenko said, though he later went on to contradicted himself. “Maybe [Sikorski] has understood that he is guilty himself, that it is not we who have created this situation here,” Lukashenko said. “Maybe this is a signal, we do not refuse signals, it’s just that we don’t need any consultations.”

But the president noted he would not exchange those detained for taking part in protest rallies for talks with Western countries. “These are people, bad or good, these are the fates of humans,” he noted.  

Sikorski had earlier urged the Belarusian authorities to free all political prisoners in exchange for consultations as a way to overcome the current economic crisis in Belarus.

On Wednesday, police detained a record number of silent protesters who took part in recent events as a part of the Revolution Through Social Networks. The protest actions took place in Minsk, Mogilyov, Grodno, Vitebsk, Brest, Bobruisk and other Belarusian cities.