-  Thursday 15 November 2018

EU imposes travel ban on Belarus officials after flawed poll

 -  Daniel Dombey

April 7 2006
European Union ministers will impose a travel ban on 31 officials from Belarus - including President Alexander Lukashenko, ministers and judges - in the wake of the country's flawed presidential election last month.
But the decision, scheduled to be taken at a foreign ministers meeting on Monday, will not include an asset freeze, a more complicated and controversial step that the EU is still working on.

A statement the foreign ministers are due to endorse "deplores that the presidential election of 19 March were not held in a free and fair manner and condemns the violence used bythe Belarusan authorities against demonstrators".

The EU had previously imposed a travel ban on six Belarusan officials - four who were deemed to be "key actors" in disappearances of members of the opposition and media, and two who were thought to be responsible for fraud in the country's 2004 elections.

The current list is much more extensive, in keeping with a call by EU leaders last month for "restrictive measures" against Mr Lukashenko and his top off-icials. However, a number of countries still have technical and political reservations about an asset freeze on the same individuals.

Some EU officials say that the action - less than a month after the elections - shows the bloc's increasing fleetness of foot in dealing with difficult post-Soviet states.

Last year the EU took five months to agree an arms embargo on Uzbekistan and a travel ban on certain officials after hundreds of protesters were killed in the Uzbek city of Andijan. The US has still not put similar measures into place.

The tough line also reflects the growing role within the EU of Poland and Lithuania, two formerly Soviet-dominated states that are deeply concerned about events in Belarus. In particular, Poland is aghast at the arrest, beating and detention of Mariusz Maszkiewicz, its former ambassador to the country, who demonstrated alongside opposition activists in March.

The visa ban list includes the head of Mr Lukashenko's administration and a clutchof aides, Alexander Radkov, education minister, Vladimir Rusakevich, information minister, and Viktor Golovanov, justice minister.

Source
FT

© FRANCE NEPAL info

Other articles by reporter Daniel Dombey




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