EU prolongs arms embargo, sanctions against four Belarus officials for one year

On February 17, the Council of the European Union decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2021.

“These measures include an embargo on arms and on equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against four people designated in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians [Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar], one businessman [Anatol Krasouski] and one journalist [Dzmitry Zavadski] in 1999 and in 2000,” the statement reads.

The Council also prolonged the derogation to the restrictive measures to allow the export of biathlon equipment and limited number of specific-use sporting rifles and sporting pistols to Belarus.

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In response, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement saying that the Belarusian authorities are disappointed extension of sanctions. The ministry called on the EU to reject ‘sanctions’ clichés’ and further enhance the political dialogue with Belarus, including in the context of ‘pragmatic regional cooperation’.

The restrictive measures against Belarus were initially introduced in 2004 in response to the disappearance of the four persons referred to above. Additional restrictive measures were adopted in 2011 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 the same year.

On 15 February 2016, the Council decided to lift the restrictive measures against 170 individuals and four companies, while maintaining the arms embargo and the sanctions against the four persons.

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