EU Makes Good on Vow to Sanction Belarusian President Lukashenko
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union sanctioned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after he disregarded calls to work toward “new free and fair elections,” making good on a mid-October pledge.
The EU on Friday added Lukashenko to a blacklist of Belarusian authorities implicated in ballot fraud and a subsequent crackdown on protesters. The penalties involve asset freezes and travel bans.
The EU on Oct. 2 blacklisted 40 Belarusian officials over a contested Aug. 9 presidential vote while sparing Lukashenko himself on the grounds that the gesture might help prod him to start an “inclusive national dialog.”
Instead, the Belarusian regime has continued a sometimes violent crackdown on protesters. That prompted EU foreign ministers to pledge on Oct. 12 to expand the blacklist to cover Lukashenko, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The latest EU measures add 14 other Belarusian officials -- including a son of Lukashenko named Viktor who is a national security adviser -- to the list, bringing the total targeted to 55. Since 2004, the bloc has also blacklisted four others in connection with the disappearances of two opposition politicians, a businessman and a journalist.
Lukashenko, who has been in office for 26 years, was sworn in for a sixth term on Sept. 23 as hundreds of thousands of people turned out across the country for weekly demonstrations against his regime.
Western governments have refused to recognize his legitimacy, while exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she is the only legitimate leader elected by the Belarusian people.
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