In the context of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August, the European Union strongly urges the Belarusian authorities to ensure a meaningful and competitive political contest. No potential candidate should be prevented from fulfilling the registration procedure due to politically motivated restrictive measures.
Yesterday, Viktar Babaryka, one of the potential presidential candidates, and his son Eduard Babaryka, his campaign manager, were detained in a criminal case. The EU calls on Belarusian authorities to immediately release them from pre-trial detention and to guarantee full respect of the rule of law, including a fair and transparent investigation and the right to have access to a lawyer. Any investigation must be impartial and without political pressure.
The Belarusian authorities must respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, in line with Belarus’ international commitments. They must refrain from any restrictions of the rights of potential candidates, avoid any detentions of peaceful protesters, and immediately release all arbitrarily detained activists. Reported cases of ill-treatment of persons detained for their involvement in peaceful protests, including Pavel Severinets, are extremely worrying.
The EU expects Belarus to officially invite the OSCE/ODIHR to monitor the elections as soon as possible. Safe, peaceful, free and fair elections will foster democratic development in Belarus, reinforce its sovereignty and independence, and pave the way for greater cooperation with the EU and economic prosperity for the Belarusian people.