In The Know

Here’s how Canada should respond to Belarus’ state-sponsored piracy: MLI

A brazen act of state piracy on May 23, in which a Belarusian warplane forced the landing of a Ryanair flight in order to arrest an opposition journalist who was flying on board, was carried out at the behest of its authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Such actions constitute major risks to international stability and security, says Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad. But what can a country like Canada actually do to combat such events?

In this Special Situation Memorandum: The Situation in Belarus, a host of recommended actions and ideas are proposed in response. These include economic measures Canada can take, such as:

  • Impose Magnitsky sanctions upon Belarusian political, military and state-controlled commercial leadership.
  • Bar Belarus from the SWIFT international banking system.
  • Impose Magnitsky sanctions on Russian oligarchs responsible for financing the transnational repression of Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.
  • Ban the trade of Belarusian bonds by imposing sanctions on Belarus’ sovereign debt.

A wide range of other diplomatic and security recommendations are also proposed, including: 

  • Explicitly and clearly declare Canada’s support and solidarity with the Belarusian people’s desire for a free and democratic Belarus by recognizing president-elect Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s government-in-exile, and the end of Lukashenko’s regime.
  • In coordination with like-minded partners, withdraw recognition from the Lukashenko regime, place Belarusian diplomatic representatives under a controlled engagement policy, and commence accrediting nominated officials by the president-elect as official representatives of the Belarusian people.
  • At the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), engage member-states to ban Belarus’ national airline in individual jurisdictions, suspend commercial overflights in Belarusian airspace, and support a robust investigation into the forced diversion of Ryanair Flight FR4987.
  • Create special visas for Belarusian democracy activists and journalists to immigrate to Canada.
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