President urges hitting Belarus leader via further economic sanctions

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid has called for a halt to what she called a flow of money from reaching Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Kaljulaid had already referred to alleged money laundering on the part of the Belarusian leader and his cronies via the City of London in interviews with the British media earlier this week and in the aftermath of last Sunday's hijacking and forced landing of a civilian airliner, carried out by Belarusian state authorities.

The Estonian president has expressed a hope that impending sanctions againg Lukashenko, who has been head of state in Belarus since around the time the recently detained opposition figure thought to be the target of Sunday's events was born, will be both tougher and more targeted on his finances.

"I think it's better to attack the resources of authoritarian regimes. They aren't located there but in larger countries, notably of course in the U.K.," the president said Friday, according to BNS.

"If we really want to make a difference, we have to limit the investment possibilities," she added.

"The situation in Belarus is urgent because there are journalists who were probably tortured," she went on, referring to Roman Protesevich, 26, who, along with Russian citizen Sofia Sapega, 23, was detained by Belarusian authorities after the plane, a Ryanair airliner destined for Vilnius, Lithuania, had landed in Minsk, forced down on the pretext of a bomb scare and escorted by at least one Belarusian air force fighter jet.

Concerns have been raised about the wellbeing of both after they appeared in separate videos and gave addresses which, experts say, bore the hallmarks of focced confessions.

Lukashenko said earlier in the week he had acted lawfully in an effort to protect the Belarusian people from a genuine terror threat (i.e. the alleged bomb).

The EU is promising further sanctions on top of those issued since last August's presidential election, widely condemned as rigged, which saw Lukashenko returned for a sixth consecutive term and which have been followed by brutal crackdowns on dissent by state forces ever since.

The president noted that working with the EU within a legal framework on the counter-measures would take time, but is viable.

Estonia closed its airspace to all Belarusian flights and carriers on Thursday.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is due to meet with Kersti Kaljulaid in Tallinn on Monday.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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