Estonian politicians on Tuesday marked the second anniversary of rigged Belarusian elections which led to a violent crackdown and repression by Alexander Lukashenko's regime and the authorities. Today (August 9) is the Day of Solidarity with Belarus.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said: "Two years ago, the hopes of the people of Belarus to choose their own futures were brutally extinguished. The democratic process of a presidential election gave rise to the political persecution, torture and forced exile of people who had long awaited a change in their country."
He said Estonia shares the "sorrow" of the hundreds of political prisoners and their families.
"I want to express my admiration for their bravery. The international efforts to ensure accountability in Belarus will continue until the perpetrators are brought to justice," the minister wrote in a statement.
Today marks 2⃣ years since Lukashenko stole the hopes of Belarusians to choose their own futures & became a threat on an international scale. We will continue with sanctions until the Minsk regime reverse the repression & end the support to the warmongering regime in Moscow. pic.twitter.com/EhPPuxV2Ue— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) August 9, 2022
He said Lukashenko's "illegitimate regime" has widened its "criminal activities and become a threat on an international scale".
"It has endangered the safety of air traffic, engineered a hybrid attack using vulnerable migrants, and become a shameless accomplice to an aggressor killing innocent civilians in Ukraine," he listed.
He said the EU will continue to sanction the Minsk regime unit it reverses its repressions and stops supporting Russia.
"Life free from oppression, violence and rule by force"
President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) called the elections "fake" and "forged" and pledged continued support to the Belarusian people.
"Those in power in Minsk continue to rule with oppression & contempt. Estonia is committed to support the people of Belarus & stand for democracy," Karis said.
Two years have passed since the fake presidential election in #Belarus, since Lukashenko stole the democratic hopes of Belarusians. Those in power in Minsk continue to rule with oppression & contempt. Estonia is committed to support the people of Belarus & stand for democracy.— Alar Karis (@AlarKaris) August 9, 2022
Kallas said the Belarusian people continue to suffer scale repressions and violence under the Lukashenko regime.
"Dear Belarusian people, we continue to support your path to freedom – life free from oppression, violence and rule by force," she wrote on social media.
Since forged elections 2 years ago in #Belarus, people continue to suffer from large-scale repressions and violence by Lukashenka´s regime. Dear Belarusian people, we continue to support your path to freedom – life free from oppression, violence and rule by force. @Tsihanouskaya— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) August 9, 2022
Chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said Estonia stands with Belarus and said the country is "de facto occupied" by Russia.
"Today is the Day of Solidarity with Belarus, years after the brutal suppression of people's desire to become free. Since then Russia has de facto occupied Belarus. But the people of Belarus will not give up, they know that Freedom is priceless. We #StandWithBelarus!" he wrote.
Today is the Day of Solidarity with Belarus, 2⃣ years after the brutal suppression of people's desire to become free. Since then Russia has de facto occupied Belarus. But the people of Belarus will not give up, they know that Freedom is priceless. We #StandWithBelarus! pic.twitter.com/kc3ROnn3JI— Marko Mihkelson (@markomihkelson) August 9, 2022
Estonia continues to support Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is in exile in Lithuania, while condemning the actions of Lukashenko's regime which aid Russia's war in Ukraine.
Belarusians living in Estonia, who have fled Lukashenko's crackdown on peaceful protesters and civil society since 2020, say they are now in a difficult position as the Estonian government has limited the possibilities to stay in the country.
Tikhanovskaya said in a social media post last week that she is working with the Estonian government to solve the problem.
Editor: Helen Wright