Belarus Celebrates 30-Year Anniversary at OSCE While Number of Political Prisoners at Home Has Now Reached 1000

OrganizationsOther ♦ Published: February 4, 2022; 00:42 ♦ (Vindobona)

As the Republic of Belarus celebrates its 30th anniversary at the OSCE in Vienna, the number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000. Although Belarus claims to be a long-standing, active, and committed member, the European Commission's External Action Service notes that Belarus "must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the OSCE". Meanwhile, it became known that a troop deployment of 30,000 Russian soldiers to Belarus has also taken place.

According to Nato intelligence, the Kremlin has moved some 30,000 Russian troops to Belarus. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / 7th Army Training Command from Grafenwoehr, Germany, Public Domain

Member of the OSCE since January 30, 1992

According to the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Austria, "Belarus has been a full-fledged member of the OSCE since January 30, 1992 having its Permanent mission to the OSCE in Vienna."

"Belarus actively participates in the processes of elaborating and adopting OSCE decisions and documents, thus making its contribution to the development of the common European dialogue on security and cooperation issues.

Belarus takes an active part in the meetings of the OSCE Ministerial councils, in the work of its main executive and subsidiary bodies: the Permanent Council (PC) and its committees, the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC), as well as the Joint Consultative Group (JCG) and the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), which are the negotiating bodies for the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Open Skies Treaty respectively." 

"Since September 2014, Belarus has provided a platform for meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine and its four working groups, which are regularly held in Minsk (in 2020, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the meetings were held in a virtual format). Representatives of Belarus take part in the meetings of the Minsk Group within the framework of the negotiation process on a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In March 2015 and June 2018, country visits to Belarus of the OSCE’s Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for Nagorno-Karabakh were organized.

Representatives of Belarus work in the OSCE Secretariat, institutions and field missions, including the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and the OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Since July 2016, a representative of Belarus N. Drozd has been heading the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat. Since March 2020, Alena Kupchyna has been the OSCE Coordinator on transnational threats."

Additionally, the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Austria mentions its priorities as follows: "Belarus supports the priority role of the OSCE in conflict settlement within its area of responsibility, stipulated by the Charter for European Security, based on the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the participating States."

"The Republic of Belarus is interested in a wider use of the scope and potential of the OSCE with a view to strengthening security in the OSCE area and to creating favourable conditions for the development of cooperation."

"Belarus traditionally positions itself as one of the most active and consistent supporters of a transformation of the OSCE into a full-fledged efficient international organization, acting in the interests of all participating States."

Number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000

A few days ago, Peter Stano, the Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the European Commission, issued a statement saying that "the number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000, and continues to grow. "

Furthermore, the Commission's statement reads: "This shameful milestone reflects ongoing crackdown of the Lukashenko regime against his own population. In addition, many thousands of protestors have fled the country to avoid persecution.

In today’s Belarus, the space for democratic political opposition and free and independent media activities has been drastically closed off . The Lukashenko regime continues detaining and imprisoning people in appalling conditions, exposing them to ill-treatment and torture and have them condemned to long prison sentences in political trials conducted behind closed doors.

Legally defending political prisoners has become dangerous, with more than 40 lawyers reported to have their licenses revoked.

Belarus must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE. The EU reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. The EU will continue to work for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators."

According to Nato intelligence there are 30,000 Russian soldiers in Belarus

Meanwhile, it became known today that a troop deployment of 30,000 Russian soldiers to Belarus has taken place, rather than the 10,000 to 13,000 soldiers Moscow said would be deployed for the joint maneuver.

According to NATO's Jens Stoltenberg, in recent days Russia has moved some 30,000 troops to its sister country, Belarus, located north of Ukraine. The Secretary General underlined that we now see the biggest Russian deployment in Belarus since the Cold War.

Along with the combat troops would also come fighter aircraft, air defense systems, nuclear-tipped Iskander missiles and special military intelligence units, Stoltenberg said. "We have seen a massive movement of Russian troops into Belarus in recent days," Stoltenberg added. According to NATO's expectations, the troop deployment will furthermore be combined with Russia's annual nuclear weapons exercise.

According to the Kremlin, the troops are being moved for a joint maneuver with Belarusian forces. According to their account, fewer than 13,000 Russian troops will be involved.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is currently in Belarus to organize preparations for the planned joint maneuver and meet with President Alexander Lukashenko.

The maneuver is scheduled to take place from February 10 to 20, 2022.


European External Action Service

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Republic of Austria

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus