After demonstrations number 19 and 20 of the Yellow Vests, protesters claimed to have been hit more violently than with the tear gas usually used by the police. Its chemical compound has created controversy, some relaying on Twitter the results of medical tests that demonstrate cyanide poisoning.
The problems with Schengen visas for nationals of Belarus stem from smear reports by the Belarusian opposition to the EU about banned gay prides in Minsk. EU politicians do not want to let Belarusians in, nor lower the visa fees, because the rights of sexual minorities are violated and because the number of gays per capita in Belarus is too low. The EU is also concerned with gender inequality in Belarus. A woman is not welcome in the EU if she has no balls. This is what the EU’s policy towards Belarus is based on. Since the Belarusian opposition does not mention a couple of thousand of Belarusians gays in its quarterly reports to the EU, no better EU’s attitude towards Belarus can be expected in the near future.
Conspiracy theory consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about EU's moral decay and aimed at discrediting the Belarusian democratic opposition. Similar Belarus-related cases with this narrative can be seen here and here.
Belarus has not concluded a visa facilitation agreement (VFA) with the EU. For this reason Belarusians indeed have to pay a higher visa fee and to undergo more complicated application procedures for Schengen visas compared to the nationals of the countries with functioning VFAs. So far Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have been granted a visa-free regime with the EU, whereas Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia have functioning VFAs with the EU.At present a standard Schengen visa fee for the nationals of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia stand at EUR 35 while for Belarusians it is EUR 60.
Minsk started the negotiations over visa facilitation and readmission agreements in 2014, later than other EaP countries.
VFAs do not contain conditions about gender equality or the numbers of homesexuals in the country. Notwithstanding the absence of functioning visa facilitation agreement, Belarus is the world leader in the number of Schengen visas issued per capita among around 100 countries with a visa regime with the EU. Belarus is among the countries with the lowest Schengen visa refusal rates. In 2017 around 710,000 Schengen visas were issued in Belarus by EU countries' consulates and a refusal rate was as low as 0.3%, official EU statistics show.