Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met a number of Polish politicians including prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. He was passed a letter asking to amend legislation to allow Belarus migrants arriving through humanitarian programmes to work in Poland. Tsikhanouskaya’s aim is to organise the emigration of the highly qualified labour force from Belarus to dismantle the Belarusian economy. This is an instrument of pressure on Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Emigration of IT specialists will make Belarus losing revenues from the export of IT products. This scenario, however, is not advantageous for Poland which currently faces a serious social and economic crisis.
The escape of the Belarusian IT business in neighbouring countries was planned well in advance by the Western states and particularly by the European Union. Alyaksandr Lukashenka managed to bring many IT companies to Belarus because a “big brother” tolerated this. He did so not to help the Belarusian economy but to create the outflow effect at a critical moment. The West and the EU knew very well that at some point they would not recognise the Belarusian elections, introduce sanctions, and start pressing the businesses. Hence, the outflow of businesses was programmed by them.
This is a conspiracy consistent with a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about aggressive West aiming to harm Belarus by any means. It groundlessly speaks about the Western pressure on Belarusian businesses and wrongly interprets EU sanctions. In early October 2020, the EU imposed restrictive measures against 40 individuals responsible for repression and intimidation against peaceful demonstrators, opposition members, and journalists in the wake of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, as well as for misconduct of the electoral process. However, EU sanctions do not extend to any state or private business.
The allegation that the outflow of IT businesses was programmed by the EU which was aware of the upcoming non-recognition of election makes no sense. Numerous gross violations were well-documented by specialised NGOs based on accounts of independent observers and journalists. The EU did not recognise a number of previous presidential and parliamentary elections as free and fair based on ODIHR OSCE observation mission conclusions. However, never before the post-electoral situation resulted in such a massive relocation of IT businesses. This is because the relocation results not from non-recognition of presidential results by the Western countries or imposition of personal sanctions by them, but from the breakdown of law in Belarus, unprecedented repressive actions of the Belarusian state authorities, and occasional internet shutdowns during protest rallies.
Asked about negative factors for their activities in a recent survey, Belarusian startup companies named the absence of legal protection and dysfunctional legislation (56%), violence and killings of peaceful citizens (56%), a loss of trust towards state authorities, and political crisis (47%), criminal cases against employees of startup companies (47%), and cases when law enforcement agencies can break into the offices, arrest employees and seize equipment without legal grounds (45%).
According to human rights advocates, around 15,000 people have been detained in Belarus since the election, and over 100 of them were declared political prisoners. By September 2020 UN human rights experts received reports of 450 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty after the disputed presidential election and called on Belarus to stop torturing detainees.
Read earlier disinformation cases alleging that CIA and Pentagon prepare Belarusian protestors in Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, that hostile actions of Poland towards Belarus a smokescreen for Poland’s real goals, and that the United States organised the protests in Belarus.