A group of more than 30 MEPs has addressed top EU officials, urging to review and expand the list of sanctions against Belarusian officials and companies involved in curtailing human and democratic rights during this election campaign, Lithuanian politician Petras Austrevicius said on Twitter.
The letter is to be sent to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
“The Belarusian government led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka has recently restricted democratic rights in the country in the run-up of the presidential election scheduled for August, 9. He has jailed presidential candidates, members of the opposition and ordinary citizens who showed up at the pickets to collect signatures. There were also reports about arrests of journalists and bloggers,” the letter reads.
MEPs call on the European Commission to take a stronger position and reconsider the 2016 decision to end sanctions imposed on 170 Belarusian officials and representatives of companies.
“We recommend that you review and expand the list of sanctions against Belarusian officials and companies involved in compromising human and democratic rights in the course of the election campaign,” the signatories stressed.
According to Belarusian human rights watchdogs, the authorities resorted to repressions at the very beginning of this year’s campaign.
As of 3 July, 125 people have been punished with to a total of 1,800 days in jail: initiating cases under articles of the Code of Administrative Offenses became a tool of political persecution. 246 persons got fines amounting to 190,000 Belarusian rubles; at least 680 cases of arbitrary detentions had been reported in the period of May, 6 – July, 1.