President Biden is expected to bring up the detention of insurgent blogger Roman Protasevich in Belarus when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, according to a high administration official who spoke to reporters on background.
But a top Lithuanian politician told Newsmax that while Protasevich’s release is important, there is much more action that should be taken in the name of thousands of dissidents in Belarus, which has a 680-mile border alongside Lithuania.
"He is one of hundreds of political prisoners, and tens of thousands of detainees," Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) member Zygimantas Pavilionis, a former Lithuanian ambassador to the U.S., told Newsmax Sunday. "The obvious solution is immediate introduction of very painful economic and territorial sanctions against Belarus."
Pavilionis, who is frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate in Lithuania, recalled that "we introduced just individual sanctions against someone who did something very, very wrong in Minsk (the capital of Belarus). But we never, ever used these kinds of Iran-like or North Korea-like sanctions — for example, oil or fertilizers or financial spheres of banking. It is now under preparation."
He voiced his hopes that the U.S. and the European Union will join Lithuania in taking action against Belarus.
Pavilionis also made clear his confidence in Biden during his dealings with Putin in Geneva.
Recalling his stint as ambassador in Washington from 2008 to 2015, Pavilionis told Newsmax how opponents of the Obama Administration’s "reset policy" nevertheless had a friend in then-Vice President Biden — who met with Putin opponents on his trips to Moscow.
"I am always saying President Biden can be for Belarus what Ronald Reagan was for us — someone who is pushing the two killers [Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko] back to their corners. We want Putin out of Belarus."
In a dramatic development on May 23, Protasevich, a sworn opponent of Belarusian strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested following an alleged bomb threat that forced the Ryanair airliner on which they were flying to land in Minsk.
Protasevich, 26, was brought before the press on Tuesday and, according to the BBC, "was clearly appearing under duress."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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