A few of you may have seen my recent posts updating on the current situation in Belarus. I was requested, why would I, a compliance guy based in Switzerland post on that. Well, 3 reasons: family, interest in others and believe it or not, we are experiencing something incredibly unique on live in the Compliance field, to be more precise in the Sanctions field, I happen to be passionate about.

Belarus – a country I visited. What strikes is the kindness of the population all generations combined, totally in opposition with what the President L. national media’s tend to convey as idea since August 2020.

According to local sources and independent media allow me to summarize in a few words what is currently on-going since August 2020 in this country. As expressed, the kind and calm population after more than 26 years of Presidency L. decided that enough is enough. (Great song by the way: Checkout the extended version duet Donna Summer & Barbara Streisand)

The President again forged the election results after arresting or assisting in emigration any possible & realistic opponent. There is today no indication that the population holds any grief against the regime “Republic of Belarus” nor against Russia and its Big brother tendency, it is all about President L. and his surroundings. In German, we would say “Raus”, in Italian “Basta”. They are saying in Russian “Ouradi”, “Va-t’en” in French.

The primary aim of international Sanctions is for a State(s) to put more or less strong pressures (trade, travelling restrictions, economical) on another State, it’s government, their close surroundings (close family, friends, known business partners, frontmen and frontwomen), but also consequently on its population leading to a change of regime or towards a more generally accepted decision.

What is fascinating here is that this now united and strong population is already down in the streets requesting this change of Presidency, no matter the unhuman behaviour of the omon special forces, outrageously highly paid to kidnap, torture and publicly claim: that any unfortunately deceased youngster was either too offensive, under drugs or manipulated by the Europeans or other similar mean supranational external force. So be it!

Also, we are witnessing that the population is requesting Sanctions on its own Country to impact its Government towards the change and stop of violence.

What we may not see living outside of this Country is that the population is for the majority employed by State entities belonging to the President L., sorry I meant State owned. Imagine the strength necessary to stand up against your employer with a very unclear vision of what will happen if President L. does not fall after all.

So be it: It started with the Countries surrounding Belarus: namely Latvia, Poland, then Ukraine offering strong support to the population (students; doctors; opponents because they we and still are targeted by the regime) and to the now officially recognised nominal President-elect of Belarus, Mrs Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

I’ll highlight a few measures taken in support on the Sanctions front:

  • After a slow start, most of the EU delegates to Brussels rejected President L. renewed legitimacy.
  • In August, a first pack of strengthen measures against Belarus from EU on a list of individuals.
  • Soon after, a second pack of measures against President L and his close relatives. He is now considered as a “Persona non grata” in the EU. To note that Sanctions rarely name a President in exercise.
  • Listening to the populations request, since 19th November 2020, EU is working on a 3rd pack of measures that will target several main State companies; EU holds a strong and efficient expertise on this. Hopefully, Biden and the US will reenforce stronger OFAC measures on said individuals & entities.

(Washington post 25.11.20: Biden to invite President Elect on Inauguration Day as signal? https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/belarus-protests-tikhanovskaya-biden-solidarity/2020/11/25/55912540-2dc6-11eb-860d-f7999599cbc2_story.html)

Conclusion – 2020 a year we won’t forget. On one side Covid19 on the other the Belarussian population created a new way of initiating International sanctions, formerly a prerogative limited to a State, simply by requesting them pacifically.

This is unique, thank’s for the lesson!