EU to Sanction Lukashenko for Violent Crackdown on Belarus Protests
The European Union is to put sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko along with 14 officials for unrelenting domestic repression of the pro-democracy movement, several diplomats told DPA.
The asset freezes and travel bans are to be implemented this Friday once the 27 EU states finalize the procedure in writing, according to the sources. Member state representatives agreed the move on Wednesday.
There have been mass protests against Lukashenko every weekend in Minsk for nearly three months, following an August 9 presidential election that protesters alleged was rigged.
Last Sunday alone 300 people were arrested, according to the Interior Ministry. Photos and videos showed security forces using flash and shock grenades against the peaceful crowd.
Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic between Russia and several EU member states, for more than a quarter of a century, tolerating little dissent.
The Belarusian leader was initially spared inclusion from the EU black list imposed early last month on 40 officials accused of fraud and of rights abuses.
Diplomats had feared that adding his name to the list could exacerbate the crisis. Belarusian officials have repeatedly accused the EU of interfering in their domestic affairs.
Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is currently in neighbouring Lithuania - one of the bloc's 27 member states - and is supported by the EU. Lukashenko, on the other hand, receives backing from Russia.
EU foreign ministers agreed in October to add his name to the bloc's black list if no improvement was seen in the country./Dpa
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