Political Repression in Central and Eastern Europe

Dear Mr Cryer MP

Political Repression in Central and Eastern Europe

I am writing to you to raise my concerns about the current Human Rights situation in Belarus and Ukraine.

After the disputed elections in December 2010 the citizens of Belarus have been subjected to many violations of their human rights and civil liberties. The regime of Alexsander Lukashenko is holding presidential candidates, their staff and supporters in detention as well as prominent journalists and human rights activists. The justice system in Belarus is heavily influenced by the regime and the political prisoners have been denied access to proper legal counsel. Exiled presidential candidate Aliaksei Mikhalevich has spoken of torture and inhumane treatment whilst in custody.

I also note that since the election of Victor Yanukovych as President in 2010, Ukraine has experienced deterioration in political and press freedoms. The trial of leading members of the previous government has been described as politically motivated by governments in the EU and by US officials and Freedom House currently describes the country as only partly free.

Countries in Central Europe will no doubt be experiencing the sharp end of the global recession and the Russian Government’s plans for a customs union to shield these countries from global trends will no doubt prove attractive in the short term. However, I am concerned by the Russian Government’s predilection for restricting political and economic freedoms at home and abroad. The Russian Government’s dealings with Ukraine since the ‘Gas Wars’ of 2005 and 2008 has plainly shown their desire to use economic blackmail to achieve their political aims.

I also note that Poland, as President of the European Union for the period to 31 December 2011, has made a Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine a priority. While politicians rightly look on event in the Arab world with pride, I believe that more needs to be done to secure the gains made in Central and Eastern Europe since the breakup of the Soviet Union twenty years ago.

I urge you to lobby for a discussion in Parliament about the situation in Belarus and Ukraine and the possible action the UK could take to ensure the people of these States are afforded their human rights. It seems to me that the Prime Minister could, in the spirit of one of his ‘big, open and comprehensive’ offers along with other leaders of EU States, bring attention to this awful situation

Thank you for your time and attention.

Yours sincerely

Josh Black

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