EU lifts Belarus sanctions

‘Europe’s last dictator’

Belarus sanctions: At a meeting of its foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, the EU voted to unfreeze Belarussan assets and to lift travel bans imposed on 170 of its citizens – including President Alexander Lukashenko – that it began imposing in 2004 in response to a series of flawed elections that returned Lukashenko and his parliamentary supporters to power in successive landslides. Sanctions were also lifted against three defence companies with close ties to the government in Minsk: Beltech Holding, Beltechexport and Spetspriborservice.
An arms embargo and sanctions on four members of Lukashenko’s security service suspected of involvement in the disappearance of four political opponents in 1999-2000 remain in place.
Lukashenko, once dubbed ‘Europe’s last dictator’ by the George W Bush administration, swept to a fifth term as president last October following elections independent observers said were marred by significant flaws. Following the elections, however, the EU suspended sanctions for four months because the elections passed without a repeat of 2010’s violent crackdown against opposition forces and  in response to Lukashenko’s decision to release six political prisoners last August, including Nikolai Statkevich, a presidential candidate in 2010.
EU ministers  said they remained “concerned with the situation of human rights in Belarus” and called on Minsk to abolish the death penalty and implement the recommendations  from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on democracy before this year’s parliamentary elections.

Source: udf