Saturday

31st Oct 2020

EU blacklists Lukashenko, as lethal force threatened

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko is going back out into the cold after the EU decided to blacklist him on Monday (12 October).

The decision came as diplomats gave up hope he might stop attacking peaceful pro-democracy protesters after two months of violence.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

There was "complete lack of will from Lukashenko to engage in any kind of communication" for a gentle outcome to the crisis, EU foreign relations chief Josep Borrell said in Luxembourg after meeting with EU foreign ministers.

The EU already sanctioned Belarus' interior minister and 39 officials earlier this month.

The move was delayed by a Cypriot veto, in Nicosia's cry for attention over its maritime dispute with Turkey.

But Borrell said he did not expect any similar problems in adding Lukashenko, as well as further names, to the Belarusian blacklist from now on.

"All member states accepted this proposal" and EU officials would soon draw up the relevant legal acts, Borrell noted.

"Yes. I'm confident [there would be no new veto]," he added.

"I think the structural obstacle for the implementation of these sanctions has been overcome," he said.

Lukashenko was already under an EU asset-freeze and visa-ban between 2011 and 2016.

He is believed to have salted away a personal fortune in excess of $1 billion (€850m), according to Valery Tsepkalo, a leading opposition activist who spoke to EUobserver.

Lukashenko visited Austria last year in a rare trip to an EU country.

But he more often travels to Serbia, Switzerland, or the United Arab Emirates, lending Monday's EU sanctions a symbolic quality.

Death threat

His security forces have so far used water cannon, stun grenades, arrests, beatings, and torture to try stop people coming out onto the streets.

And they were given the green light to fire live ammunition in future on Monday, as the EU ministers met.

"On behalf of the interior ministry, I say that we will not leave the streets and will guarantee the law in the country. Law enforcement personnel and interior troops will use special equipment and lethal weapons if need be," Belarusian deputy interior minister Gennady Kazakevich said in a video statement.

"This has nothing to do with civil protests. We're confronted not just by aggression, but by groups of militants, radicals, anarchists, and football hooligans," Kazakevich claimed falsely.

Interview

West urged to reveal where Lukashenko hides money

The EU and US should reveal where Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko hides his money overseas if they wanted to help the revolution, a Belarusian opposition leader has said.

EUobserved

Belarus: Where's the EU when you need it?

It has been 81 days since the first police cosh hit the first skull in Belarus and president Alexander Lukashenko has still not paid any EU price.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us