EU Foreign Ministers to sanction Belarusian officials

Ministers in Brussels will today announce sanctions on Belarusian officials for their suspected rigging of the August 9 Belarusian presidential

belarus officials sanctions

Photo: Sergei Gapon/ Pool/ AFP/ Getty Images

Ministers in Brussels will today announce sanctions on Belarusian officials for their suspected rigging of the August 9 Belarusian presidential election and the violent police response to the protests that ensued.

In a resolution adopted August 17, MEPs voted to withdraw recognition of Alexander Lukashenko’s presidency and condemn officials for the crackdown on demonstrations. The European Parliament has threatened to expand the list if human rights violations are not curbed—more than 7000 protesters have been detained and 158 hospitalised, along with widespread reports of beatings and torture.

Intrabloc tensions may scuttle a unified response. Cyprus has threatened to veto any measures, citing a refusal to levy similar sanctions against Turkey over a maritime drilling dispute in the eastern Mediterranean. Ministers are not expected to make a decision on Turkish sanctions until a September 24 summit, but have shown a willingness to block energy exploration by targeting individuals and shipping, and prevent the use of European ports.

Expect economic sanctions including asset freezes, travel restrictions and visa bans for the targeted officials, though similar sanctions levied against Belarus in 2004 had little effect and were lifted in 2011. Additionally, look for increased diplomatic pressure on Lukashenko, though this is unlikely to have much effect given his support from Moscow.

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