EU prolongs arms embargo, sanctions against four Belarusians

On February 25, the Council of the European Union has decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2020.

“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, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000,” the statement reads.

Restrictive measures on the part of the EU towards Belarus were first introduced in 2004 in connection with the disappearances of four people – opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasouskiand journalist Dzmitry Zavadski. Personal sanctions were applied to the former Interior Minister Uladzimir Naumau, former head of the presidential administration Viktar Sheyman, Yury Sivakou, who occupied the post of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the disappearance of politicians, and Dzmitry Paulichenka, commander of the special forces brigade of the Interior Ministry.

Still missing: 19 years since harsh critics of Lukashenka disappeared

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. AS a result, Alyaksandr Lukashenka was denied entry to EU member coutries for years.

In 2011, the European Union imposed an embargo on the supply of arms to Belarus.

In February 2016, the European Union lifted sanctions against the Belarusian leader and 169 officials. 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. However, sanctions against Naumau, Sheyman, Sivakou and Paulichenka are still in force., following

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