Accessibility links

Breaking News

Watchdog

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)

The European Union stands ready to include Alyaksandr Lukashenka on its blacklist of Belarusian officials deemed responsible for electoral fraud and a brutal crackdown on protesters and opposition members, according to a draft document seen by RFE/RL.

The document, drafted by the council of the EU, is expected to be adopted by the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers when they meet in Brussels on October 12.

It comes after the EU last week agreed to impose visa bans and asset freezes on 40 Belarus officials following weeks of street protests against the results of the “rigged” presidential election that gave Lukashenka a sixth term.

Diplomats told RFE/RL that Lukashenka was not included on the sanctions list because there was still hope he would engage in talks with the opposition to find a way out of the political crisis in Belarus.

Lukashenka claims to have won the August election by a landslide and had himself secretly sworn in.

However, the European Council’s document does not refer to him as the president of Belarus but only uses his surname and first initial.

Describing the vote as "neither free nor fair," it says that Lukashenka "lacks any democratic legitimacy.”

"The list of persons targeted will be under constant review. In line with the EU’s gradual approach, the EU stands ready to take further restrictive measures, including against entities and high-ranking officials, including [Lukashenka],” the draft document says.

The 7-page document also says that the EU will review its relationship with Minsk, including cooperation with Belarusian central authorities and financial assistance to the country "in order to ensure it benefits the population at large notably by directing it to the maximum possible extent away from central authorities."

If a democratic transition takes place in Belarus, it says, the EU would offer economic support to Belarus and back the country's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

The document also notes that the opening of a dialogue with Minsk aimed at granting the country complete visa liberalization "is possible under the precondition of sustained and effective implementation of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements as well as a well-managed and secure mobility."

The two deals entered into force earlier this year, making it easier and cheaper for Belarusian citizens to enter most EU countries.

Anatol Lyabedzka has been fined and jailed several times in the past for his opposition activities. (file photo)

Belarusian police say they have detained one of the associates of opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya on suspicion of committing an administrative violation.

Minsk city police spokeswoman Natallya Hanusevich said on October 8 that Anatol Lyabedzka was detained in the capital. She did not elaborate.

Earlier in the day, Lyabedzka's colleagues said he had stopped answering phone calls and that his whereabouts were unknown.

Tsikhanouskaya has announced she had picked Lyabedzka, a former leader of the opposition United Civic Party (AHP), as her representative on constitutional reforms.

Lyabedzka has been fined and briefly jailed several times in the past for his opposition activities.

Tsikhanouskaya denounced Lyabedzka's detention, saying that Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime "showed again that its words mean nothing."

"[The regime] has vowed about its readiness to carry out constitutional reforms, but today Anatol Lyabedzka, who coordinated the work of the Public Constitutional Commission, was detained,” she wrote on Telegram.

"Do not trust the regime's words. Do not offer it any proposals except one -- Lukashenka must go away," the opposition leader added.

With reporting by BelaPAN and Deutsche Welle

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Subscribe

Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

XS
SM
MD
LG