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EU agrees on ‘immediate’ sanctions against 40 Belarusian officials, but President Lukashenko escapes censure... for now at least

EU agrees on ‘immediate’ sanctions against 40 Belarusian officials, but President Lukashenko escapes censure... for now at least
Despite opposition from Cyprus, the 27 EU members have agreed to immediately blacklist some 40 officials from Belarus – but not President Alexander Lukashenko – over what the bloc says were rigged presidential elections in August.

“We have unblocked sanctions on Belarus,” a senior EU official told Reuters in the early hours of Friday in Brussels.

European Council President Charles Michel said the sanctions would go into effect right away and noted that while Lukashenko wasn’t among the 40 officials, that “can change.”

Cyprus had sought to tie any moves against Belarus to punishment of Turkey over the Eastern Mediterranean, where disputes over oil and gas exploration have led to tensions with Nicosia and Athens.

"We state that we want to give political dialogue a chance,” Michel told reporters. “On the other hand we express our firmness on our values and support for Greece and Cyprus. We are ready to engage in a more positive agenda with Turkey provided that Turkey wants to engage in a more positive agenda with us."

Also on rt.com In unprecedented step, UK & Canada impose sanctions on Lukashenko & other Belarus big wigs over ‘rigged elections’ & ‘repression’

On Tuesday, the UK and Canada announced sanctions against Lukashenko, his eldest son Viktor, and six other high-ranking officials. Invoking the the Global Human Rights sanctions regime modeled after US legislation targeting Russia, London accused Lukashenko of “human rights violations against opposition figures, media, and the people of Belarus in the wake of rigged elections.”

“Despite numerous calls from the international community, he has refused to engage in dialogue with the opposition, choosing instead to double down on his violent repression,” the British government said.

Lukashenko was elected for a sixth term on August 9, in a contest most EU governments, the US and Canada consider to have been rigged. Official results showed him receiving 80.10 percent of the vote, with opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya receiving 10.12 percent. Tikhanovskaya has since fled to Lithuania and called for annulling the elections.

Initial protests against the “stolen” election were dispersed by police using tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets, with the government accusing the protesters of being part of a “color revolution” directed from abroad. There were reports of multiple fatalities. Since then, the protests have become less frequent and less violent, but continue to attract thousands.

Also on rt.com ‘Why didn't you hand over power to Yellow Vests?' Belarus’s Lukashenko tells Macron after French leader calls for his resignation

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