The EU Foreign Minister today imposed sanctions on 78 individuals and 8 legal entities from Belarus on the grounds that they severely violated human rights and suppressed civil society, democratic opposition and journalists.
Seven persons and one legal entity were on the sanctioned list for the forced landing of a Ryanair plane, which was forced to land in Minsk on a flight from Athens to Vilnius on May 23. Journalist Roman Protasevic and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were subsequently taken off the plane and arrested. Among those sanctioned were several well-known businessmen who supported and benefited from the Alexander Lukashenko regime.
“As a result, these sanctions send a strong signal to supporters of the regime that they have paid a huge price for their support of Alexander Lukashenko,” the European Council said in a statement. “The EU is not alone in responding to the Belarusian crisis and is working with its partners,” the text added.
This is the fourth round of sanctions. The EU’s restrictive measures have so far covered 166 people and 15 legal entities from Belarus. These measures include freezing their assets in the European Union and prohibiting European citizens and companies from doing business with them and making payments to them. Individuals subject to sanctions are also prohibited from entering and transiting EU territory.
After Ryanair’s planes were forced to land, the council banned Belarusian planes from landing and flying over EU territory on June 4. The EU foreign ministers recalled that the purpose of these sanctions was to put pressure on the leaders of Belarus to have a truly inclusive dialogue with the community and avoid further repression.
“The EU stands ready to support a peaceful and democratic transition through a series of measures, including the development of a comprehensive economic assistance plan for a democratic Belarus. If the situation in Belarus does not improve, we are ready to take further actions against other economic participants,” the EU Foreign Minister said .