Belarus exiles get EU lifeline

April 7, 2006

As Alaksandr Lukashenka exploits a contested mandate as President of Belarus to crush opposition, the European Union and the Nordic Council of Ministers have pledged €2.78 million (£1.9 million) to help a Belarusian university in exile.

The Minsk-based independent European Humanities University (EHU) was closed in 2004 by Mr Lukashenka's authoritarian regime. It has since reopened in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, funded by the US and several European governments, along with private donations Anna Gerasimova, EHU project manager, said this latest cash injection would enable the university to survive for three years.

"These are the first few years for our university. It is extremely important that we have this opportunity to find ways of further development."

EHU teaches 600 degree and non-degree students in Belarus via internet-based distance learning, plus 250 Belarusian expatriates in face-to-face bachelors and masters degree courses. Enrolments in Vilnius could be expanded to 350 students thanks to the additional funding.

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