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Belarus’s Tsikhanouskaya calls on EU, UK, US to jointly pressure Lukashenko

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The United States, Britain and the European Union should act jointly to put more pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government, opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (pictured) told Reuters on Friday (4 June), writes Joanna Plucinska.

Tsikhanouskaya made the comments during a visit to Warsaw, Poland ahead of a summit of the G7 rich countries in Britain next week, at which she hopes issues raised by the Belarusian opposition will be addressed. Belarus has shot up the international agenda since it forced down a Ryanair flight over its air space and arrested an opposition journalist last month.

"Pressure is more powerful when these countries are acting jointly and we are calling on [the] UK, the USA, the European Union and Ukraine. They have to act jointly so their voice will be more loud," Tsikhanouskaya said.

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France has said it would like to invite the Belarusian opposition to the G7 summit, if host country Britain agrees. Britain has said there are no plans to invite further delegations, but that Belarus would be discussed.

Tsikhanouskaya said she had not been invited to the summit but expected Belarus would be discussed there.

Britain, the United States and the European Union all imposed bans and asset freezes on some Belarus officials after an election last year that the opposition says was rigged.

Since the Ryanair incident, Western countries have discouraged their airlines from flying over Belarus and said they will take other steps, such as barring Belarusian airlines and adding more names to their blacklists.

Some opposition figures have called for stronger measures that would have an impact on the overall Belarusian economy, such as restrictions on imports of minerals or oil from Belarus.

Belarus

Europe would be honoured to give asylum to Belarus athlete - French minister

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French minister for European affairs Clement Beaune answers journalists as he arrives at a General Affairs meeting in Luxembourg June 22, 2021. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

It would be an honour if Europe were to grant political asylum to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (pictured), French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune (pictured) said on Monday (2 August), writes Sudip Kar-Gupta, Reuters.

Tsimanouskaya, who refused to board a flight after saying she had been taken to the airport by her team against her wishes, was "safe and secure" in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday. Read more.

"Political asylum - it would be an honour for Europe to do so," Beaune told RFI radio.

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Migration: Commissioner Johansson travels to Lithuania to discuss support for management of situation at external border with Belarus

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On Sunday (1 August), Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson (pictured), travelled to Lithuania to meet with senior government officials to discuss the situation at the external border with Belarus and any additional European support needed for border and migration management or diplomatic outreach, in line with the principles of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

The commissioner met with Gitanas Nausėda, president of Lithuania, Ingrida Šimonytė, prime minister of Lithuania, Agnė Bilotaitė, minister of interior and Mantas Adomėnas, vice minister of foreign affairs, responsible for Eastern Partnership and relations with Asian countries.

On 2 August, the commissioner and the prime minister held a joint press point, available on EbS. She then visited the Padvarionys border crossing point with the minister of interior and will meet with Lithuanian, Frontex and European Asylum Support Office staff at the Medininkai Border Guard Service training centre. Finally, the commissioner and Minister Bilotaitė held a press conference, also available on EbS.

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The Commissioner's visit will be followed on 5-6 August by a visit of Commission officials to make a strategic assessment on the ground. This year, over 3,000 people, including many children, have crossed irregularly into Lithuania from Belarus. The EU firmly rejects attempts by third countries to incite or acquiesce in irregular migration towards the EU and is fully supporting Lithuania, through operational support from European agencies, financial support, supporting the strengthening of border surveillance capacity and in humanitarian aid through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.

High Representative/Vice President Borrell and the Commission are also fully engaged in diplomatic outreach to countries of origin. For more detail, please see an interview with Commissioner Johansson here.

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Ukraine aims to build a Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility, challenges the global environment

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With major climate and environmental challenges the world is facing today, a tiny risk that may provoke further damage to the nature (not to mention a global threat) must be calculated with extra dedication to details. And Ukraine is not an exception, writes Olga Malik.

As the country’s new Chernobyl Interim Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-2) was granted an operating license earlier in April, Ukraine started the loading of used fuel into the containerized dry storage systems. On July 8, the first part of the spent nuclear fuel was loaded to the ISF-2.

Yet, this poses many questions, even among the country’s authorities, as the experiment might not be as safe as it initially seemed to.

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According to Stanislav Mitrahovich, the leading expert of the National Energy Security Fund, the major operation risk of the ISF-2 is that it is ground-based and the transportation of the nuclear waste will also be operated through the surface transit. Designed by Holtec International, the price of $1,4 Storage project, according to Energoatom, the main operator and investor of the ISF-2, is multiples higher than its real cost. Moreover, due to the limited number of nuclear storage space in Ukraine, the spent fuel to ISF-2 will be transported throughout the country that poses a great ecological threat not only to Ukrainian cities, but to all Europe.

Ironically it may seem, the previous project of the new Chernobyl Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility designed by the French’s Framatom was a big failure, as the Ukraine authorities admit. For instance, the Storage’s bulk had fractures water system flaws. For Holtec International, that redesigned and completed the construction, the ISF-2 is an experiment, as the company has never implemented similar facilities before. Needless to say, that the safety of this “experiment” must be a priority for the global nuclear energy community, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and WANO Biennial General Meeting, for the world will not survive a second Chernobyl disaster.

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