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EU threatens sanctions over Belarus election and aftermath

The EU is ready to take action “against those responsible” for violence and the falsification of election results in Belarus, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell warned Tuesday.

“The elections were neither free nor fair,” Borrell said in a statement.

“We will be assessing the Belarusian authorities’ actions to address the current situation and conducting an in-depth review of the EU’s relations with Belarus. This may include … taking measures against those responsible for the observed violence, unjustified arrests, and falsification of election results.”

Borrell’s statement comes as protests continued for a third straight day Tuesday, despite a massive police and military presence, after preliminary results from Sunday’s vote gave incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko an 80 percent victory over opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

“State authorities deployed disproportionate and unacceptable violence causing at least one death and many injuries. Thousands of people were detained and the crackdown on freedoms of assembly, media and expression intensified,” Borrell wrote.

Since 2004, the EU has imposed sanctions on individuals and organizations linked to the Belarusian regime after a series of flawed elections allowed Lukashenko to maintain his hold on power.

In 2016, after the country released certain political prisoners, the EU lifted sanctions for more than 100 Belarusian individuals and companies while leaving other restrictive measures in place, such as asset freezes and travel bans, for four persons linked to the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and 2000. The EU also maintained an arms embargo. These sanctions were extended until February 2021.

“Since the 2015 release of political prisoners, the relationship between the EU and Belarus had improved. But without progress on human rights and the rule of law, the EU-Belarus relationship can only get worse,” Borrell wrote Tuesday.

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-threatens-sanctions-over-belarus-election-and-aftermath-alexander-lukashenko/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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