Tuesday 1 September 2020 6:18 pm

Protest to call for London Stock Exchange to delist £1bn of Belarus bonds

The London Stock Exchange has been hit by calls to delist almost £1bn of Belarus government bonds in the wake of alleged vote rigging by the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko.

In June, the Belarusian government listed $1.25bn (£930bn) of bonds on the London Stock Exchange for the first time.

A group of Belarus expats – called Nadezya which translates to Hope in English – will protest outside the stock exchange in the City of London on Thursday to demand the bonds are delisted.

The group claims the bonds “ultimately fund the terror regime of Alexandr Lukashenko in Belarus”.

The London Stock Exchange declined to comment on the protest.

Minsk has been gripped with protests since Lukashenko – often described as Europe’s last dictator – won the country’s election last month with 80 per cent of the vote.

The result has not been recognised in many countries – including the UK – as evidence has emerged.

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Most experts believe his opponent in the election,  Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, would have won a free and fair election.

The peaceful protests have been met with a violent reaction from the country’s police, with thousands arrested and at least four killed.

There have been many stories of locked up protesters being tortured, while foreign journalists have also been arrested.

Liudmila D’cruz, one of the organisers of Nadzeya, said the City of London had a moral responsibility to not help fund the Lukashenko regime.

“What is happening is that the Belarusian government has been using financial instruments created in a democratic country – the United Kingdom – to raise funds for a violent, illiberal and immoral regime.

“I absolutely think the City has a responsibility to stand up against this.

“[Foreign secretary] Dominic Raab issued a statement to say the UK does not recognise the election result and I believe financial institutions should also respond in a similar way.”

Nadzeya is also calling for the government to level sanctions on the Belarusian government and companies associated to the regime.

The UK recently passed a Magnitsky law, which allows the government to sanction foreign internationals for human rights abuses.

When asked to about the potential use of this law against Belarusian figures, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to comment.