EU Aims to Sanction Judges, Lawmakers, Executives in Belarus

The European Union is set to propose sanctions on more than 70 people and organizations in a fresh round of punitive measures targeting the regime in Belarus, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The move is the next step in the EU response to what it considers to be a series of repressive actions by the authorities in Minsk. The Belarusian government has cracked down on protesters since last year’s disputed election and last month forced a Ryanair flight to land in its capital in order to arrest a dissident journalist who was traveling from Athens to Vilnius.

The bloc has already sanctioned seven Belarusian entities and 88 individuals, including President Alexander Lukashenko, and was working on adding more people even before the detention of Raman Pratasevich. Earlier this month, EU members agreed to ban Belarusian aircraft from European airspace and airports. The European Commission declined to comment.

The new measures would put another 71 individuals and seven more entities on the list, which was extended in response to Pratasevich’s arrest, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

The list includes judges and prosecutors who’ve been involved in sentencing protesters as well as parliamentarians, government and law-enforcement officials and business executives associated with the regime, the person said. There are also a handful of companies and exporters operating in a range of industries that are accused of supporting Lukashenko’s government and its repression of civil society.

The proposed measures must be adopted by member states before taking force and would mean those listed are banned from traveling to the EU and would have any EU-based assets frozen.

Technical work continues on further measures, following an EU leaders’ agreement in May to also adopt “targeted economic sanctions.” The exact sectors to be affected have yet to be defined but are likely to include areas such as potash, where state enterprises are most active, an EU official told Bloomberg last month. The official said the aim was to have the measures ready by the summer.

Potash, a soil nutrient used to improve crops, is Belarus’s major export -- also supplying a large share of European demand -- and the country’s only abundant mineral resource.

The timing of the sanctions will depend on the ability of the EU’s 27 national governments to reach agreement. It will need to name specific industries and be clearly defined to withstand potential legal proceedings.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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