Statement of Werner Schulz, Member of European Parliament
No one expected the World Championships in November of 2014 to be hosted by a reformed dictator or a warm and fuzzy political fairytale to come true in the Belarusian winter. Yet there were good reasons to hope for chances and opportunities, which the international attention could open for the Belarusian population and activist-minded foreign athletes, journalists and fans.
However, the rising rather than falling number of political prisoners, the expansion of repressive measures targeting regime opponents, show trials and the cynical executions of Vladislav Kovalyov and Dmitri Konavolov have made it quite clear that Lukashenko does not have concessions in mind, but a celebratory staging with all the trimmings and no disturbances for his cherished sport.
On 29 March 2012, the European Parliament drew the consequences from these developments and acted upon them. This action is aimed against Lukashenko, not the Belarusian people. Only who plays fair can win an honest victory. That is true in politics as well as in sports.