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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 08.12.2023, 10:25

EU hits Belarus businesses in third round of sanctions

BC, Riga, 18.12.2020.Print version
The European Union on December 17th expanded its sanctions on Belarus to include businessmen and firms close to Alexander Lukashenko's regime, as it stepped up pressure over a crackdown on protests, informs LETA/AFP.

The third round of punitive measures hit 27 officials, two businessmen and seven companies seen as backing Lukashenko as he clings to power in the face of mass demonstrations following a disputed election in August.

Lukashenko, his son, and more than 50 Belarusian officials have already been subjected to measures including EU asset freezes and visa bans.

Moguls Alexander Shakutin and Nikolai Vorobei -- whose interests range from construction and agriculture to petroleum -- were the first businessmen to be hit by the sanctions regime.

They appeared on Thursday's list alongside the country's general prosecutor, information minister, deputy prime minister and state TV boss.

The sanctions also targeted seven companies -- three private and four state-owned -- that the EU said were "supporting the Lukashenko regime".

Among them were weapons exporter Beltechexport, real estate conglomerate Dana Holdings, surveillance tech firm Synesis and subsidiaries of the state defense authority.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said last month that the fresh sanctions were intended to "affect normal economic activity" in the country.

Belarus has been gripped by four months of unprecedented anti-government demonstrations that erupted after a disputed presidential election in August which saw Lukashenko claim a sixth term in office.

His opponents say the polls were rigged and that political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran in place of her jailed husband was the true winner.

Belarusian security forces have unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protests, detaining demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile.

Tikhanovskaya on Wednesday urged Europe to do more to pressure Lukashenko's regime as she received the EU's top rights award in Brussels.

The latest EU escalation comes after Belarus announced it is to close its land border from Sunday, ostensibly to curb the spread of the coronavirus but triggering alarm in the opposition which sees it as a further clampdown on dissent.

At the start of the pandemic early this year, Lukashenko repeatedly dismissed virus concerns and did not impose a nationwide lockdown.

The new decree prevents Belarus nationals and foreigners who hold temporary or permanent residency from leaving the country via its land borders.

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