Accessibility links

EU To Agree Wider Travel Ban For Belarus Officials

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

The EU says it's preparing to impose a far wider travel ban on Belarusian officials than the bloc took following Minsk's widely criticized election in 2006.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the number of top Belarusian officials set to receive a travel ban will be "a considerable increase on the number we previously had."

The EU imposed visa bans on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and some 40 other officials in 2006, but lifted them two years later.

One EU diplomat said "more or less 150 individuals" would be on the new list.

The expected EU move -- at a foreign ministers' meeting on January 31 – comes as the U.S. plans to strengthen its existing sanctions against Belarus and increase financial support for the country's beleaguered civil society.

The actions follow a crackdown of antigovernment demonstrations protesting Lukashenka's reelection last month.

compiled from agency reports