UK to slap restrictive measures on Belarus after Brexit

In the face of leaving the EU, the United Kingdom will pursue its own sanctions policy, including towards Belarus.

The proper regulations published on January, 15 are intended to ensure that certain sanctions measures relating to the Republic of Belarus, which are currently in force in the UK under EU legislation and related UK regulations, continue to operate effectively after the UK leaves the EU.

Imposing the financial, trade and immigration sanctions on Belarus, the UK aims to encourage its government to:

  • respect democratic principles and institutions, the separation of powers and the rule of law in Belarus,
  • refrain from actions, policies or activities which repress civil society in Belarus.
  • investigate properly and institute criminal proceedings against persons responsible for the disappearances of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski and Dzmitry Zavadski,
  • comply with international human rights law and respect human rights.

When the regulations above come into force they will replace, with substantially the same effect, relevant existing EU legislation and related UK regulations.

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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 Krasouski and 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.

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, president 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.

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