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EU Will Slap Visa Bans On 31 Top Belarusian Officials

Belarusian police in action against demonstrators in postelection demonstrations on March 25 (file photo) (RFE/RL) BRUSSELS, April 7, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg on April 10, will impose a visa ban on 31 top Belarusian officials, an EU diplomat told RFE/RL today.

The list, to be headed by president Alyaksandr Lukashenka, will target officials considered responsible by the EU for the undemocratic conduct of last month's presidential elections and the crackdown that ensued.

Emma Udwin, a European Commission spokeswoman, said the list of Belarusian officials to be banned from entering the EU could be extended, if repressions continue.

"A decision will be taken on Monday, but we continue to watch the conduct of the Belarusian authorities," she said, noting that "there are still a very large number of people in detention, for example."

Apart from Lukashenka, the list will name members of the presidential administration, a number of ministers, the leadership of the country's KGB, some members of parliament, judges, and heads of local electoral commissions.

The EU Watches Minsk

The EU Watches Minsk

Belarusian students studying at an EU-funded university in Vilnius, Lithuania

WATCHING AND WAITING: The European Union repeatedly urged Minsk to conduct a fair and democratic presidential election on March 19. The EU external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in a statement today that the recent arrests of Belarusian opposition figures are "unacceptable" campaign violations. Ferrero-Waldner repeated an EU threat of "targeted sanctions" against top Belarusian officials if the elections are not free and fair. However, the EU will withhold final judgment until March 20, when the bloc's foreign ministers meet in Brussels....(more)

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Click on the image to view a dedicated page with news, analysis, and background information about the Belarusian presidential ballot.

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Read brief biographies of the four candidates in the March 19 election.

Click on the image to view RFE/RL's coverage of the election campaign in Belarusian and to listen to RFE/RL's Belarusian Service.

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