Mr President, a large number of opposition figures, including former presidential candidates but also journalists and human rights defenders, were arrested after the events of 19 December 2010 in Minsk and they have been kept in KGB detention centres ever since. There have been reports of torture and of forced confessions at the hands of the KGB. These developments fit into a larger pattern of repression and politically motivated trials against opposition activists, civil society, the media and human rights defenders that continues to this day. We urgently call upon the Belarusian authorities to allow political opposition, civil society, free expression and media pluralism. The rule of law needs to be adhered to. The credibility of the Belarusian authorities would be won if investigations carried out in line with international standards, with international experts, were to start right away. We should consider restrictive measures, including economic sanctions on Belarusian government-owned companies, but we hope this will not be necessary. We would welcome it if more countries in the international community were to join the call for such actions, because the status quo is unacceptable.