Cyprus Mail

EU to discuss sanctions against Belarus after disputed election, Sweden says

Women take part in a demonstration against police violence during the recent rallies of opposition supporters following the presidential election in Minsk

EU foreign ministers will meet on Friday to discuss targeted sanctions against Belarus following Sunday’s contested election and subsequent violent crackdown down on protesters, Sweden’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, claimed victory with around 80 per cent of the vote, triggering three nights of violent clashes between security forces and opposition supporters in which one protester was killed.

Belarusian police detained more than 1,000 protesters on the third night of protests on Tuesday that broke out over a contested election handing a new term to President Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said 51 protesters and 14 police officers were hurt during the protests overnight. 

“I absolutely think we need to consider broadening targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence against the protesters (and) for the election fraud – those involved in the electoral process not having turned out free and fair,” Linde told Swedish radio on Wednesday.

“This morning there has been a summons to an extraordinary EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday where we will discuss precisely this (sanctions),” she told the public broadcaster.

Lithuania had also said it would consider such steps.

Any decision on sanctions requires agreement by all 27 EU member states, meaning no imminent move is expected.

As seen in the cases of Russia or Ukraine, such decisions can take weeks or months. Foreign ministers are due to next meet at the end of August in Berlin.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Tuesday condemned what he called “disproportionate” violence by Belarus authorities against protesters and said the EU could take unspecified measures.

On Tuesday, Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she had fled abroad for the sake of her children.

Her election rallies drew some of the biggest crowds since the fall of the Soviet Union in a country where foreign observers have not judged a single election to be free and fair since 1995.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in a letter to Borrell, which was seen by Reuters, that the Friday meeting should “show support for the peaceful protesters and exchange ideas on how the EU could help them”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has also called for a special summit of EU leaders to come up with a new package for Belarus that would address the protesters’ demands on fighting corruption and respecting freedom of speech and the rule of law.

In a letter to top EU officials, which was also seen by Reuters, Morawiecki said the protests in Minsk were “clear proof that many Belarusians want change… and that they want the European Union to be present in their lives. It is our duty to answer that call”. 

Related posts

Malta police arrest former PM’s chief of staff in money laundering probe

Reuters News Service

European Commission to unveil ‘cash-for-refugees’ plan

Reuters News Service

England to require earlier 10 pm closing time for pubs, eateries

Reuters News Service

UK could hit 50,000 COVID cases per day by mid October unless it moves fast

Reuters News Service

In Brussels, Belarus opposition urges EU to move on sanctions

Reuters News Service

Greece says it’s close to resuming maritime talks with Turkey

Reuters News Service