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EU Mulls Adding Lukashenka To Blacklist Over Belarusian Election, Crackdown

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.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.