US embassy cable - 06OSLO181

DIALOGUE WITH BELARUSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Identifier: 06OSLO181
Wikileaks: View 06OSLO181 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Oslo
Created: 2006-02-16 14:04:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL BO NO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L  OSLO 000181 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2016 
TAGS: PREL, BO, NO 
SUBJECT: DIALOGUE WITH BELARUSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST 
 
 
Classified By: P/E Chief Mike Hammer, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1.  (C) Summary.  The Ambassador brought together visiting 
Belarusian human rights activist Aliaksandr Bialiatski, 
Norwegian government officials and NGOs on February 16. 
Bialiatski greatly appreciated us hosting him and stressed 
the key role of the international community providing 
political and financial support to Belarusian civil society 
and the NGO community in the run-up to the March elections, 
but equally important afterwards as well.  "We are not about 
to witness an Orange revolution; Lukashenko's regime will not 
reform.  It will have to be removed," Bialiatski explained. 
Bialiatski described the difficult environment he and other 
activists face in trying to promote democracy and suggested 
that the international community can be of most help if it 
supports a free and independent press.  End summary. 
 
Belarusian People Need Continued International Support 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
2.  (C) The Ambassador hosted Aliaksandr Bialiatski, his 
colleagues, and Norwegian government officials and human 
rights leaders for a frank discussion on the state-of-play in 
Belarus.  Bialiatski described how the Belarusian opposition 
had come together to support Alexander Milinkevich.  In fact, 
Bialiatski said Lukashenko moved up the elections because of 
Milinkevich's steady rise in the polls.  That said, 
Bialiatski said that we should not expect an Orange 
revolution like in Ukraine.  He did not harbor any hope for 
reform under the Lukashenko regime and said that it would 
have to be removed.  Bialiatski's view is that Belarus would 
have to get new leaders before any true transformation could 
occur. And, since the March 16 election will not produce that 
result, Bialiatski urged that the international community not 
abandon the Belarusian people.  Support is wonderful now, but 
would be needed even more after the elections, Bialiatski 
urged. 
 
3.  (C)  Aliaksandr Bialiatski was in Oslo to receive the 
2006 Norwegian Helsinki Committee's Andrei Sakharov Freedom 
Award.  Present at the Ambassador's residence were Norway's 
International Development Minister Erik Solheim, leading NGOs 
such as Amnesty International Norway, the Norwegian Helsinki 
Committee and youth groups that focus on Belarus.  Solheim, 
and the other Norwegian participants, agreed that Norway will 
continue to stay focused on developments in Belarus even 
beyond the elections.  The Amnesty International 
representative noted that sadly Belarus gets little attention 
as it seems that attention is focused on other international 
crisis.   A Norwegian youth party leader highlighted the 
efforts by students at Oslo University to raise awareness 
about the dire situation in Belarus by having candlelight 
vigils in front of parliament on the 16th of every month, 
noting that these will continue even after the elections. 
After the event, the Oslo University newspaper conducted a 
joint interview with Bialiatski and the Ambassador. 
 
Belarusians are Eager for Change 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
4.  (C) Bialiatski expressed the NGO and civil society's 
desire for change, but noted that the people of Belarus were 
ready to vote for a new leader but not necessarily ready to 
demonstrate in the streets for one.  The average Belarusian 
lives with daily repression and often without any outside, 
independent news.  This creates a difficult environment and 
limits Bialiatski and other civil society groups' ability to 
educate and motivate the people to push for democratic 
changes. 
 
5.  (C) Bialiatski stressed the importance of international 
support for a free and independent press in Belarus.  With an 
independent press, Bialiatski feels that the NGOs and civil 
society could better inspire people to press for much needed 
democratic changes.  Bialiatski suggested that one concrete 
way this might be achieved was by transmitting radio 
broadcasts from a neighboring country, as Radio Free Europe 
has done successfully in other countries in the past.  He 
also urged support for the few independent newspapers still 
operating in Belarus. 
 
Comment 
- - - - 
 
6.  (C)  Bialiatski was extremely appreciative that we would 
receive him during his visit to Oslo and "secretly" mentioned 
that he enjoyed close cooperation with our Embassy and 
Ambassador in Minsk.  Bialiatski clearly felt U.S. support 
was important to his Viasna human rights center, but was 
equally important for the Belarusian people.  He hoped that 
the United States and the EU will continue to maintain a 
spotlight on the Lukashenko regime. 
Visit Oslo's Classified website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/oslo/index.cf m 
 
WHITNEY 
 
 
NNNN 

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