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The European Union (EU) has agreed to impose new sanctions on Belarus to “tighten its grip”


EU countries have agreed to impose large-scale new sanctions on economic and government officials Belarus: While President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is stepping up its pressure on high-ranking dissidents.

The European Union’s foreign ministers on Monday took action against a further 86 individuals and organizations, focusing on industry, including finance, potash and petroleum products. The United States, Britain and Canada have announced that they will impose additional sanctions on Belarusian officials in a move agreed with Brussels, in a bid to force the regime to “end its repressive practices against its own people.”

EU economic sanctions, pending finalization and legal signing, are pushing for Lukashenko to oust the 27-year-old authoritarian regime. They are in response to the arrest of blogger Roman Protasic by Ryanair on a Ryanair flight last month, part of pressure on the opposition since last year’s presidential election. Protasich’s girlfriend, student Sofia Sapega, was also detained.

“After this silent act of state air piracy, we must tighten our thumbs,” said Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schalenberg ahead of a meeting in Luxembourg, where ministers agreed on sanctions. “We want to strike at the state-linked economic sector, not those responsible, not the people in Belarus, who are suffering anyway.”

The EU is rebelliously blocking the freezing of assets, travel bans in Belarus for և 78 individuals, including the Minister of Defense համար the Minister of Transport. The bloc has already taken similar measures against a number of other officials, including Lukashenko.

Economic measures are designed to hit some of Eastern Europe’s major export sectors. The EU wants to stifle funding for Lukashenko’s regime, including through state-owned companies that dominate Belarus.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the sanctions would “severely damage Belarus’ economy”. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the targeted areas were “of particular importance to Belarus’s regime.”

Last year, Belarus exported about 4 billion euros worth of goods to Russia, its second-largest trading partner after Russia, importing just over 6 billion euros, according to EU figures. Its petrochemicals and potash exports are a potential source of hard currency for the Lukashenko regime, bringing in at least $ 6.6 billion in revenue by 2020.

Diplomats say financial sanctions will curb the entry of state institutions into the EU capital markets, as well as the European Investment Bank’s lending to official companies in Belarus. Exemption is offered for private bank deposits, humanitarian transactions, and some local projects.

The proposed package of EU restrictions also includes the tobacco industry, officials added. It will ban the export of surveillance technology to Belarus and further extend the existing arms embargo, including the delivery of precision-guided rifles used by biathletes.

EU diplomats say the package was designed to maximize damage to the regime and minimize damage to the population. But many European officials have secretly acknowledged that the consequences will only become clear if the sanctions are put into practice.

The EU package is in line with sanctions imposed by the opposition movement in Belarus. The ministers had breakfast on Monday Sviatlana ik ikhanuskayaThe main opposition candidate to challenge Lukashenko in last year’s elections.

Ik ikhanuskaya showed the ministers a bullet he said had been taken from the lungs of a young man shot during a protest rally last August, thanking them for “their position on the situation in Belarus”.

Under pressure from the EU, Minsk remains unrepentant. Officials took Protasichich from a Belarusian KGB prison to a news conference last week, where a blogger under apparent pressure spoke of his “unconditional” respect for Lukashenko.

The Supreme Court of Belarus on Monday heard oral arguments during the trial of Russian-linked banker Viktor Babariko, who was arrested on corruption charges after announcing his candidacy against Lukashenko last year.

Another vocal opponent, ik ikhanuskaya’s husband, Siarhey ik ikhanusky, is awaiting a closed trial this weekend with several other dissidents, including well-known blogger Ihar Losik.

Tskhanuskaya said she suspected the regime had decided to hold the session behind closed doors to prevent her husband and other participants from gathering Belarusians against Lukashenko.

«[The regime] “They do not want people to see that these people are not broken, they are as strong as they are. They do not want them to inspire people,” he told the Financial Times last week.



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