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EU Envoys Agree One-Year Extension Of Belarus Sanctions

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- Meeting in Brussels on February 12, European Union ambassadors approved a one-year extension of the bloc's arms embargo on Belarus, as well as asset freezes and visa bans on four Belarusian citizens.

The embargo, which has been extended annually since its introduction in 2011, does not provide for any exemptions.

During the roll-over process in 2017 and 2018, Hungary managed to exempt both biathlon rifles and other arms used in sports.

The EU first introduced the embargo, along with the visa bans and asset freezes on four Belarusian companies and 174 individuals, including President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, after a violent crackdown on demonstrators that followed the December 2010 presidential election.

In February 2016, the bloc removed the companies and 170 individuals, including Lukashenka, from the sanctions, citing what it said were improvements in the human rights situation in the ex-Soviet republic.

The four people who still are on the visa-ban and asset-freeze list are considered to have played key roles in the unresolved disappearances of four Belarusians in 1999-2000.

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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.