The European Union has adopted new sanctions against Belarus in a move that follows a request by its citizens last month to pursue EU cooperation. The new sanctions target the President Alexander Lukashenko and his administration, the Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, along with several human rights defenders and journalists.
This is the latest in a series of sanctions against the North African country that include travel bans and asset freezes. EU officials told Reuters on Wednesday that they do not expect the sanctions to have an impact on Lukashenko, but that they hope they will serve as a deterrent to what they call “repression and disregard for human rights and basic freedoms” by the Belarusian government. The sanctions also open up the possibility of European companies ending investment and trade with Belarus.
The Belarusians have spoken out against the sanctions, writing in the Kremlin-backed newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta: “The decision to ‘sanction’ Belarus has been taken primarily for the sake of shaking the Belarusian economy and [evicting] President [Vladimir] Putin’s corrupt hand. The next thing is that people are to be deprived of electricity and water, and [pressure to] cut off Internet access for Belarusians. By opting for sanctions, the EU must go even further from a democratic, pragmatic viewpoint.”