Tuesday

2nd Mar 2021

EU to announce 'harder, faster' Belarus sanctions

  • Lukashenko has also imposed counter-sanctions against EU officials (Photo: Natalia Rak/Flickr)

EU foreign ministers are to announce a third round of sanctions against Belarus on Thursday (19 November), amid lethal regime violence.

Some 20 EU states' diplomats spoke out in favour of "a strong message" by the foreign ministers at an internal meeting in Brussels earlier on Monday, and no one favoured a soft approach, one EU diplomat told EUobserver

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 were "no fundamental changes since the last introduction of sanctions," a senior EU official said.

"We expect a green light [for further sanctions] on Thursday", another EU diplomat told this website.

"The case [of Roman Bondarenko] accelerated the decision," the diplomat added, referring to a 31-year old opposition activist, who was murdered by plain-clothes police last week.

The new sanctions were expected to target "at least" 20 individuals with visa-bans and asset-freezes, an EU source said.

"It will be a comprehensive package, including many categories of people, in order to send a clear political message," the source noted.

"There's no point in waiting because the situation is getting worse. We have to hit harder and faster," the source added, predicting that the new measures will enter into force by mid-December.

The EU has already blacklisted Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, his son Viktor, and more than 40 of his security chiefs, following three and a half months of mass protests after rigged elections in August.

The reference to "many categories of people" in the latest measures comes after Belarus opposition leaders urged Europe to also target oligarchs who bankroll the regime.

Meanwhile, "the number of arrests of peaceful demonstrators is nearing 30,000," the EU embassy in Minsk said on Tuesday.

And there is "no indication that the authorities are investigating the thousands of reports of police brutality filed since mid-August or the killings of protesters," it added.

The violence has included rape of men and women in detention, torture, and beatings so severe that they have left victims permanently disabled.

And Lukashenko has stuffed his inner circle with "siloviki" - intelligence and military bosses - in a sign that he is not intending to back down, according to Artyom Shraibman, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, a think tank.

"By involving all the security services in the crackdown, Lukashenko is bonding them to him with a shared fear for their safety in the event that the protesters win," Shraibman said.

"When everyone is implicated, no one thinks of going over to the other side," he added.

Lukashenko has also imposed counter-sanctions against EU officials, in a sign that he is not interested in talking to Europe.

But "they [Belarusian authorities] are not publishing them anywhere and will be imposing them at their own discretion, upon [attempted] entry of EU citizens [to Belarus]," the senior EU official said.

EU blacklists Lukashenko and his eldest son

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

Exclusive

New EU sanctions to hit Belarusian oligarchs

Regime-linked Belarusian tycoons are to face new sanctions, while EU-Belarus relations are being cut to a minimum, according to an internal EU paper, seen by EUobserver.

News in Brief

  1. EU lacks resources to fight foreign propaganda
  2. Financial exodus from UK to EU tapering off
  3. Report: EU looks to vaccine production in India
  4. European MPs seek US help to halt Israeli annexation
  5. Czech Republic has world's highest-infection rate
  6. Poland asks for Chinese vaccine as third wave mounts
  7. Over 60 percent of Russians don't want Sputnik vaccine
  8. Belgium changes strategy on AstraZeneca vaccine

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz
  2. 12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns
  3. EU to propose Covid-free 'travel pass' ahead of summer
  4. What Estonia and Slovakia did to beat AstraZeneca 'hesitancy'
  5. EU ambassador in hot water over Cuba letter
  6. 'Big Five' tech giants spent €19m lobbying EU in 2020
  7. Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK
  8. Ethiopia right of reply

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us