This week’s The New European carries a timely and powerful article by Pavel Latushka, head of National Anti-Crisis Management of Belarus, the country’s shadow government in exile, on why President Alexander Lukashenko must be punished over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On the podcast he hosts with Rory Stewart, The Rest Is Politics, this week, Alastair Campbell explains why.
“The [Belarussian] opposition are genuinely worried and alarmed, I think… because Putin has become, for many parts of the world, this sort of total pariah, and also because he’s become the central figure of this whole thing,” Campbell tells his co-host.
“I remember when Scholz did his speech in the Bundestag, he just talked about ‘Putin’s war, Putin’s war, Putin’s war’, and their worry is actually that the role of Lukashenko as what they call his partner-in-crime is being underplayed and that is leading, for example, even though there have been sanctions put upon Belarus and, to be fair to our government, they’ve put some pressure on since the invasion, but the opposition think that they’re weaker and I think they underestimate as well the extent to which Lukashenko is in many ways an even worse dictator than Putin.
“And I was talking to this guy Pavel Latushka, who’s the leader of the kind of government-in-exile, he’s exiled in Poland, and it’s extraordinary. He’s a former minister, he’s a former ambassador, and he’s now facing seven charges, one of which carries the death penalty as punishment. He’s been labelled a terrorist, he’s got relatives who’ve been thrown in jail back in Minsk.
“We were talking about John Major and Gordon Brown last week setting out a process by which we can at least envisage a war crimes trial against Putin and they were simply making the point that it’s always about just Putin, but actually Lukashenko is his partner-in-crime, they’re joined at the hip, they’ve got to be treated in the same way. So that’s the kind of basic point that they’ve been making. And when you talk to these guys you feel so kind of inadequate because, you know, I just think they’ve got – and we talk about [Alexei] Navalny – that level of courage and you sometimes wonder, would we in our pampered British ways be able to sort of have that kind of courage and resilience?
“And you end up saying, as I did, ‘look, well, there’s not much I could do today but would you like to write a piece for The New European? And of course, to them, they say ‘absolutely, that is exactly the sort of thing I want to do, because I want to get the message out, and we can send that out to ambassadors and to other media and so forth’.
“But, yeah, they’re pretty worried about what’s happening and they do think that Belarus is more actively involved in the war than is widely understood.”
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