Belarus (MNN) — The United Kingdom and Canada have leveled sanctions against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and other top officials after this year’s election drew international controversy.
The U.S. and European Union will likely impose sanctions as well, but the EU has been held up by Cyprus, who also wants sanctions on Turkey for oil and gas exploitation in the Mediterranean.
Several countries, including the U.S., have said they do not even recognize Lukashenko as the president of Belarus. French President Emmanuel Macron even set up a meeting with the leader of the opposition party and hopes to help mediate the situation.
Inside the country, protests have not abated. Crowds of thousands gather each weekend in Minsk to express displeasure about the election.
Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association says, “The government launched another crackdown with the most recent protests that took place. It just seems like whenever they crack down, that just adds more protestors. It doesn’t look like this is going to settle down anytime soon.”
Since the protests began over 7 weeks ago, police have made over 12,000 arrests.
The sanctions by the UK and Canada have hit Lukashenko with asset freezes and a travel ban, accusing him of mistreating protestors. But will they make any impact? Griffith says, “Some will argue that these have a definite impact and have resulted in a lessening of oppression on people. Others will say that they’ve really had a counterproductive impact. Economically, they tend to impact the average person on the street in these countries more than they affect the leadership.”
Christians in Belarus
How are Belarusian Christians responding during these difficult times? Griffith says, “I know that a number of the church groups over there, including the UECB leadership, did put out a call for a cessation of the violence that’s going on. I know it grieves their hearts deeply to see this kind of unrest in their country.”
Despite the political chaos, these believers remain focused on worshipping Christ and spreading the Gospel. Join them in praying that peace and reconciliation would come to Belarus.
Pray also that in all this turmoil, many Belarusian people would find the indestructible hope that can only be found in Christ.
The header image shows a protest in Belarus. (Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels)