At a donor conference held in Warsaw today the German Government announced a 6.6 million euro support package this year for civil society in Belarus.
The money will be used to fund scholarships, for example, as well as training for journalists and projects to promote democracy and the rule of law. Germany will also waive the 60 euro fee normally charged for German national visas issued to Belarusian students and academics. It will likewise press for more Schengen visas to be issued, waiving the usual 60 euro fee, to representatives of civil society in Belarus.
Following the Belarusian Government’s massive abuses of human rights, the German Government is pursuing a dual-track approach. The EU has imposed travel bans on and frozen the assets of those responsible for rigging the recent elections in the country and using violence against members of the Opposition. It is also seeking to support civil society in Belarus.
Since the rigged presidential elections in December, the Opposition, civil society and the country’s independent media have faced severe harassment. Many critics of the regime are still in detention or under house arrest.