August 5, 2021

European Union agrees on heavy sanctions against Belarus

Seventy-eight personalities, eight entities and seven economic sectors targeted: the European Union (EU) wanted to heavily sanction the Belarusian regime, Monday, June 21 in Luxembourg. The meeting foreign ministers therefore approved measures which contrast with the hesitant ones which have struck the leader Alexander Lukashenko for more than twenty years. So far, these decisions, for the most part, marked a disapproval of the brutality of his regime and the repression he was organizing, but did not really affect him or those around him.

The president and 86 others had been targeted by the EU in recent years. This time, one of his sons, Dmitri, one of his daughters-in-law, Lilia, three businessmen (including a Russian) as well as the ministers of defense and transport, Viktor Khrenine and Alexeï Avramenko, will be added to this listing. All are banned from staying in the Union and their assets there, if any, will be seized.

Read also Plane hijacked by Belarus: Europeans target Lukashenko regime’s income

Shortly after the European announcements, the United States, Canada and Britain also announced sanctions against Belarusian officials. Washington is targeting a spokeswoman for Alexander Lukashenko, the head of its intelligence services, the speaker of the upper house of the parliament in Minsk and, in total, 155 personalities hit by visa restrictions.

Potash, weapons, tobacco

European economic sanctions, targeting key sectors, should be formalized at the end of the week, during the European Council of 24 and 25 June. Rarely used, even if they appear in the European arsenal, they aim to bring the regime to stop repression and to democratize itself. Unless they bring Mr. Lukashenko closer to his Russian protector. “We are betting to increase the cost of the repression that the Belarusian leader is inflicting on his people. And therefore, also, the cost for those who would like to help him, by associating with him ”, explains a diplomatic source.

Cautious, followers in 2004, 2006 and 2013 of retaliatory measures subsequently crossed out in 2016, the Europeans considered that, this time, the context had really changed. The act of air piracy committed on May 23, when Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair plane from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk, could, in the opinion of many, be clearly sanctioned. On the pretext of a bomb threat, Belarusian officials got their hands on the young opponent Roman Protassevich and his friend Sofia Sapega, since imprisoned.

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