The Council of the EU decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2018.
These measures include an arms embargo and an asset freeze and a travel ban against four people listed in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians (Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar), one businessman (Anatol Krasouski) and one journalist (Dzmitry Zavadski) in 1999 and in 2000.
The names of the persons is not published, but it is unoficially reported that ex-Interior Ministers Yury Sivakou and Uladzimir Navumau, ex-secretary of the Security Council Viktar Sheyman, ex-commander of special forces Dzmitry Pavlichenka are banned by the EU. According to Belarusian independent experts and journalists, the so-called death squads might have been behind the abductions and alleged murders.
The restrictive measures against Belarus were first introduced in 2004 in response to the disappearance of the four persons referred to above. The Council later adopted further restrictive measures against those involved in the violation of international electoral standards and international human rights law, as well as in the crackdown on civil society and democratic opposition. The arms embargo was introduced in 2011.
Over a year ago, the EU lifted restrictions against 170 individuals and four companies, while maintaining the arms embargo and the sanctions against the four persons. Tangible steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of the EU’s future policy towards Belarus, as stated in Council conclusions of 15 February 2016.
According to Civil Rights Defenders, the sanctions were removed without any improvements to the human rights situation.
Belsat.eu, following consilium.europa.eu