EU may slap sanctions on Lukashenka, cut cooperation with Belarus authorities

The European Union is ready to take further restrictive measures against entities and high-ranking officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, if the situation does not improve, the Council of the EU said on October, 12.

The Council reiterated its full support for Belarus’ sovereignty and independence and underlined the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their president through new, free and fair elections, without external interference.

The Council strongly condemned the violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, and called for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners.

The EU will scale down bilateral cooperation with the Belarusian authorities at central level, increase its support for the Belarusian people and civil society, and recalibrate its bilateral financial assistance accordingly. In line with that, the EU has immediately made available additional financial resources for victims of violence, civil society organisations and independent media,” the statement reads.

Przydacz: Lukashenka’s decision to recall diplomats will hit Belarusians

At the same time, the EU expressed readiness to substantially step up its political engagement, sectoral cooperation, and financial assistance to Belarus provided that its authorities respect the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, by stopping repression and abuses, promoting a serious, credible and inclusive political process resulting in free and fair elections under the OSCE/ODIHR’s observation, and providing guarantees for respect for human rights.

“Finally, the EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to engage in an inclusive national dialogue and stands ready to support a peaceful democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus,” the press service commented on the EU’s response to the developments in Belarus.

Two months have passed since post-election protests broke out in the country; Belarusians keep taking to the streets, demanding Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation, holding a free and fair election, releasing political prisoners, putting an end to police violence as well as state-run TV stations’ providing people with unbiased and reliable information.

10th protest Sunday in row: Thousands of participants in Minsk (photos)

According to estimates by media outlets, around 100,000 people took part in the March of Honour in Minsk on October, 11. The rallies were also held in other Belarusian cities and towns. Over 620 persons were detained throughout Belarus a day before, human rights centre Viasna reports on Monday. Some of them have been released; the list of detainees is being updated.

The participants in Sunday’s March were facing inexorable pressure from siloviki: water cannons, tear gas, flashbang grenades, rubber bllets were used against them. The protests in the Belarusian capital lasted far into the night.

As reported earlier, European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions on 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 the moment, it includes 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.

‘Communication channels’. Head of EU Delegation continues to stay in Belarus, following