European Union member states have agreed to slap sanctions on Alyaksandr Lukashenka, along with 14 other Belarusian officials, in response to a brutal crackdown on postelection protests.
The green light to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Lukashenka, his son Viktar, and the 13 others was given by envoys from the EU’s 27 member states on November 4 and should be confirmed in the bloc’s official journal in the coming days, sources say.
According to the German news agency dpa, the restrictive measures will come into force on November 6.
Lukashenka has been under pressure from constant demonstrations following a disputed presidential election nearly three months ago that the opposition says was rigged and the West has refused to accept.
Belarus’s 66-year-old strongman was initially spared inclusion in the EU asset freezes and travel bans imposed last month on 40 Belarusian officials for their alleged role in the repression of protesters and the opposition, as well as fraud during the August 9 vote.
But in mid-October, EU foreign ministers gave the go-ahead in principle to prepare a new sanctions package that would include the embattled leader himself.
AFP reported that the EU is also targeting Lukashenka’s son Viktar, who is an acting national-security adviser in Belarus.
Lukashenka is “responsible for the violent repression by the state apparatus before and after the 2020 presidential elections,” according to the sanctions decision seen by AFP.
He is also being held responsible for the exclusion of opposition candidates in the vote, “arbitrary arrests and the ill-treatment of peaceful demonstrators, as well as intimidation and violence against journalists.”
The EU has denounced the August election as “neither free nor fair” and refused to recognize Lukashenka as Belarus’s legitimate president.