Saturday

28th Nov 2020

EU blacklists Lukashenko and his eldest son

  • News of EU sanctions comes ahead of rolling mass protests every Sunday since 9 August (Photo: Homoatrox)

The EU has imposed a visa-ban and asset-freeze on president Alexander Lukashenko due to the "gravity of the situation" in Belarus after rigged elections in August.

It accused him of ordering "violent repression" of "peaceful demonstrators" and journalists in its legal gazette on Friday (6 November).

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It also blacklisted his oldest son and national security advisor, Viktor Lukashenko, whom it accused of similar abuses, as well as "torture".

And it designated 13 other officials, including the president's chief-of-staff and the chairman of the KGB, the country's secret police.

Most of these were prosecutors or other security bosses, such as Sergei Zubkov, who leads an elite squad - the Alfa Unit - which is supposed to conduct counter-terrorism special operations.

But the crackdown also covered people responsible for state propaganda, such as Lukashenko's press secretary, the 36-year old Natalia Eismont, and two men responsible for "interrupting connection to telecommunication networks as a tool of repression of civil society".

And it named Pyotr Miklashevich, the president of the Constitutional Court, who rubbed-stamped the outcome of the rigged vote in a verdict on 25 August.

Friday's decision comes on top of earlier sanctions covering 40 officials, imposed on 2 October.

The EU timing, on the eve of the weekend, also meant the fresh news hit the airwaves ahead of mass street protests, which have taken place every Sunday for the past 14 weeks.

A Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovoskaya, had earlier called for Europe to go after oligarchs who fed money to the regime.

The EU did this in its previous wave of sanctions, following rigged elections in 2010.

But even though it did not heed Tikhanovoskaya's appeal, an EU source previously told EUobserver that there are "literally thousands" of names that could still be added in future, if the situation did not improve.

"This list is under constant review," Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde also said on Friday.

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