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2 Apr, 2024 15:09

Belarusian president explains why he banned sanctions complaints

Gripes about Western restrictions only serve as an excuse to avoid work, Alexander Lukashenko has claimed
Belarusian president explains why he banned sanctions complaints

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he prohibited the government and officials in the country from complaining about Western sanctions as grievances can serve as an excuse to get out of work.

Minsk has been under Western sanctions for years over alleged violations of human rights. One of Russia’s closest allies, it has also been placed under harsh restrictions by the US and the EU over the Ukraine conflict. Belarus is not directly involved in the fighting, but allowed Russia to use its territory in February 2022 when Moscow launched its military operation against Kiev.

During a trip to the city of Grodno on Tuesday, Lukashenko urged government officials to forget about the sanctions, which currently cover roughly 70% of Belarusian exports to the EU, and explained why he had earlier banned officials from complaining about them.

“I proceeded from simple logic: if an executive, a civil servant, a director of an enterprise is given an opportunity to dodge work, he or she will grab the opportunity,” he said.

“This is why I told them right away that there are no sanctions. I told them to forget that sanctions exist,” Lukashenko explained.

The Belarusian leader earlier made a similar appeal to farmers, claiming that sanctions offer new opportunities. At the same time, Lukashenko has reportedly admitted that working under restrictions is “not easy” for the country’s key fertilizer producer, Belaruskali, as well as for oil refineries.

“What difference does it make to our people whether the sanctions exist or not? They want to live. They want to work,” he argued on Tuesday, adding that the government “should do everything for our people to be able to live, work, and support their families.”

The West has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Belarus, covering a range of vital economic sectors. The penalties include a ban on the transfer of military technology to the country, and prohibit EU companies from providing insurance services for the Belarusian authorities. Minsk has also had its access to EU financial markets limited.

Among the companies targeted by the West are the state-owned Belavia airlines and the Belarusian Steel Works Management Company.

Both Moscow and Minsk have repeatedly denounced Western sanctions as illegitimate.