Today (7 September), reports came in that a number of Belarussian opposition leaders, including one of the more well-known faces of the United Opposition - Maria Kalesnikova, have been kidnapped in central Minsk by unidentified masked men.
The EU High Representative condemned the actions on Twitter: “Arbitrary arrests and kidnappings on political grounds in Belarus, including this morning's brutal actions against Andrei Yahorau, Irina Sukhiy & Maria Kalesnikova, are unacceptable. State authorities must stop intimidating citizens & violating their own laws and int. obligations.”
EU Reporter asked the EU’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Peter Stano, if they were aware of the detention of opposition leaders. The spokesperson said that while the EU was establishing all the facts, they were aware of the reports of political activists going missing.
Stano stated: “What we are witnessing in Belarus is basically continued repression by the authorities against the civilian population, against the peaceful protesters, political activists, and people who want to have their voice heard. This is completely unacceptable.
“The EU was very, very clear in our statements that we consider the actions of the authorities in Belarus unacceptable.” The EU is calling on all people who have been detained for political reasons to be released immediately.”
The EU continues to work on a sanction list. Asked if the sanctions were closer to being put in place - given that the decision to impose sanctions was agreed ten days ago - the spokesperson said that the procedures took time but that it was only a question of when they would be introduced.
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Ahead of a debate on the rule of law in Bulgaria (5 October), protestors and MEPs gathered outside the parliament to call for systemic change and new elections in Bulgaria. EU Reporter spoke to some of those involved. Professor Vladislav Minekov, has been labelled as one of the ‘Poisonous Trio’ by the oligarch-owned Bulgarian media. Asked what was keeping protestors on the streets ninety days after the first impromptu protest on 9 July, he said that Bulgarians don’t want to live under the Mafia. Minekov welcomed that the European Parliament was grappling with this important question, saying that Bulgarians had the impression that the EU and the world was overlooking what was happening in Bulgaria.
One of six MEPs we interviewed, Clare Daly MEP (Ireland), compared the current Bulgarian government to vampires feeding off EU money, “sucking the lifeblood out of Bulgarian society,” she said that the European Peoples’ Party, in particular, had protected Borissov’s government for too long and that it was time to face up to the blatant corruption and failure to adhere to the rule of law. 'Brussels for Bulgaria' has organized weekly protests in Brussels since the protests began in July.
One of the organizers, Elena Bojilova, said that Bulgarians abroad want to show solidarity with their fellow countrymen: “We've had people join us from other cities from Ghent, from Antwerp.” Bojilova explained that this phenomenon was also occurring in many other countries, “in Vienna, in London, in Canada in the United States, other European capitals. The fact that we are not physically in Bulgaria does not prevent us from supporting the efforts of our countrymen, and we fully support their demands which are for the resignation of the government, resignation of the Prosecutor General, reform rule of law and basically cleaning up the
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