The Council of the European Union has extended EU restrictive measures against Belarus until 31 October 2015.
According to the press service, the reason for this measure is the fact that not all Belarusian political prisoners have been released and rehabilitated, and the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not significantly improved in Belarus.
At that, the list of persons and entities targeted has been updated as the Council considered there were no longer grounds for keeping 24 persons and seven entities under restrictions.
“This decision does not reflect any change in the EU’s policy towards Belarus, as set out in the Council conclusions of 15 October 2012: the EU maintains its policy of critical engagement with Belarus, intended to promote the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles in Belarus,” the press release says.
The EU’s sanctions comprise an arms embargo, an embargo on equipment for internal repression as well as asset freezes and travel bans against persons responsible for human rights violations. Associated entities are subject to an asset freeze.
The EU blacklisted Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka, his sons Viktar and Dzmitry, head of the Central Election Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna, KGB Chief Valery Vakulchyk and a number of Belarusian ministers, top officials, judges, journalists and presidential bagmen who are accessory to serious violations of human rights, for the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition or for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Belarus, or persons benefiting from or supporting the Lukashenka regime.
The EU first imposed restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime in 2004 in response to the disappearance of four opposition activists in 1999 and 2000. Measures have also been imposed against those responsible for the fraudulent referendum and elections in Belarus on 17 October 2004; for the violations of international electoral standards in the presidential elections in Belarus on 19 March 2006, and on 19 December 2010; and those who are responsible for severe human rights violations and the repression of peaceful demonstrators in the aftermath of the referendum and these elections.