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European Parliament Calls For Harsh Economic Sanctions On 'Criminal' Belarusian Regime

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg

The European Parliament has called for sweeping economic sanctions and a raft of other measures against Belarus in response to growing repression and the forced landing of a plane flying between two EU capitals to arrest opposition activist Raman Pratasevich.

Economic sanctions should target Belarus's state-run companies in the oil, potash, steel, and wood-processing industries, EU lawmakers said in a nonbinding resolution on June 10.

Cooperation and financing for Belarusian state-owned banks should be halted and suspending Belarus from the SWIFT international banking system should also be considered, the European Parliament said.

The European Union has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Belarus, applying asset freezes and visa bans on 88 individuals and seven entities, including authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka himself.

Even before Lukashenka had a Ryanair flight forcibly diverted to Minsk on May 23, the bloc had been working on a fourth round of targeted sanctions on senior Belarusian officials for electoral fraud in the presidential election of August 2020 and subsequent human rights violations.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election.

The resolution said it considered the regime in Belarus "illegitimate, illegal, and criminal."

The plane diversion put renewed urgency on addressing Lukashenka's rogue behavior, which the resolution stated has become a threat to international peace and security.

The "hijacking" and forced landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk and the detention of Pratasevich and his girlfriend was a "horrendous act" in violation of international law and constituted an "act of state terrorism," EU lawmakers said.

Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told MEPs the bloc would likely adopt economic sanctions on Belarus later in June when EU foreign ministers meet to hammer out the details.

Shortly after the plane was diverted, EU leaders called for targeted economic sanctions.

The EU also banned Belarusian carriers from using the bloc's airports and airspace.

The United States is coordinating a response with European allies and the Group of Seven summit of industrialized countries is expected to discuss the situation in Belarus this week.

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