EEAS spokesman: If bad developments continue in Belarus, sanction regime can be extended

The restrictive measures against those responsible for the unacceptable repressions in Belarus are constantly under review, Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU, said on Thursday’s press briefing.

When asked by The Brussels Times about the EU’s assessment of the effect of the sanctions imposed amid the continuing suppression in Belarus, Stano reminded that there had been three waves of listings, but stressed that the process would be ‘open’ as long as the Belarusian authorities refused to engage in a nationwide inclusive national dialogue about finding the solutions to the crisis.

“As for the effect of sanctions, you know that this is something that takes a little time to take effect and to see the effects of this, but this is, of course, also constantly reviewed, and EU member states – because they are in charge of the implementation of the sanctions – can make their own assessments. So at this stage I would not go into this, as this is a little premature, but what is important is that, yes, the repressions have not stopped,” the top EU official said.

According to Peter Stano, if bad developments still continue in Belarus, the sanction regime can be extended providing that there is a corresponding consensus among the member states.

33K detainees, 900 criminal cases: Human rights watchdog calls 2020 repressions ‘unprecedented’

In early October, the European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions on more than 40 Belarusian officials over the vote rigging and post-election police violence in the country. However, the name of Alyaksandr Lukashenka was not added to the sanctions list at that moment. It included senior police and election officials, e.g. Interior Minister Yury Karayeu, Public Security Police Chief Alyaksandr Barsukou, Dzmitry Balaba, Commander of the Special Purpose Police Unit of Minsk (OMON), Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Valery Vakulchyk, ex-Head of the State Security Committee (KGB), and others.

Yet later, the Council of the European Union added 15 members of the Belarusian authorities, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, as well as his son and national security adviser Viktar Lukashenka, to the list of individuals sanctioned in relation to the violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus.

In late November, MEPs passed a resolution on ‘the continuous violations of human rights in Belarus, in particular the murder of Raman Bandarenka’. In the document, they highlighted that actions taken so far by the EU and the member states against the Lukashenka regime were ‘insufficient’; they welcomed the decision to work on a third package of sanctions aimed at firms and oligarchs with ties to the regime and called for a ‘credible enlargement’ of the EU sanctions list. On December 17, the Council of the European Union approved the third package of sanctions against the political regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Another 29 individuals and 7 legal entities fell under the restrictions.

Lukashenka says sanctions unfounded and must be resisted