On 26 October the opposition youth group the Young Front demanded the release and exoneration of all imprisoned opponents of Aliaksandr Lukashenko.
In a statement adopted at its convention in Minsk, the unregistered organization accused Mr. Lukashenko of using political prisoners for bargaining with the West. “He can sell his hostages and take new ones tomorrow,” said the statement.
The delegates warned the European Union against softening its policy toward Minsk. “Realizing that attempts at influencing the dictator’s policy are useless, we reserve the right to urge democracies to impose economic sanctions [on the regime] until our associates are released from prison,” said the statement.
The Young Front members also criticized the European Union’s decision to invite representatives of the Belarusian government to attend an Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius on November 28 and 29.
The organization’s outgoing leader, Zmitser Dashkevich, said that hopes for the evolution of Mr. Lukashenko into a democratic leader would never materialize.
“The Young Front calls on the European Union not to invite dictator Lukashenko or his henchmen to Vilnius until the regime’s political opponents are released from prison and the persecution of the regime’s opponents ends,” he said.
The delegates to the convention described the West’s steps to make overtures to the Belarusian regime as immoral and useless.
The Young Front, which made six unsuccessful attempts to obtain legal status in the past, will no longer apply to the justice ministry for registration, said Mr. Dashkevich.
“Doing so would make no sense, it would be a waste of time and effort,” he told BelaPAN. “In 2006 many of our members were tried for acting on behalf of an unregistered organization, the authorities thought that it would ruin the Young Front. But we saw dozens of young people ready to continue acting.”