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German Foreign Minister wants President Lukashenko to be slapped with personal EU sanctions as ‘violence continues’ in Belarus

German Foreign Minister wants President Lukashenko to be slapped with personal EU sanctions as ‘violence continues’ in Belarus
Germany’s chief diplomat Heiko Maas has suggested the EU tighten sanctions on Belarus, demanding that Alexander Lukashenko, whose disputed re-election in August stirred up civil unrest across the country, be directly targeted.

Heiko Maas took aim at Lukashenko during a European Union (EU) foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg. “The violence continues [in Belarus] … There are still arrests of peace-loving demonstrators,” the German Foreign Minister said on Monday.

There is, therefore, a need for a “fresh package of sanctions” to be rolled out, and Lukashenko “should also be among people who will then be sanctioned,” Maas insisted, as quoted by local media. 

Later on Monday, the EU Council maintained Lukashenko “lacks any democratic legitimacy” and therefore faces sanctions if the situation in Belarus does not improve. However, the executive body stopped just short of actually putting restrictions in place. “In line with the EU’s gradual approach, the EU stands ready to take further restrictive measures, including against entities and high-ranking officials, including A. Lukashenko,” the council’s decision reads.

Two weeks ago, the European Council blacklisted 40 individuals from Belarus for what it said was the “repression of independent candidates and a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in (the) wake of the elections.” The individuals in question face asset freezes and a ban on travelling to the EU.

Maas has long championed targeting the Belarusian president, who faced anger from the opposition after his victory in the August elections. Last month, the German FM said his EU counterparts should ask themselves “the question of whether Mr. Lukashenko, the one who bears the main responsibility (for the crisis), mustn’t also be sanctioned by the European Union.”

Previously, the United Kingdom has introduced travel bans and asset freezes on Lukashenko, his son Viktor and other senior officials for “the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people,” as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab put it. Canada followed London’s lead, sanctioning 10 officials – plus the president himself – for “a systematic campaign of repression and state-sponsored violence.”

Protests in Belarus, which broke out shortly after the August elections that saw Lukashenko secure his sixth term, show no sign of winding down. On Sunday, tens of thousands gathered in the capital, Minsk, for a demonstration dubbed ‘The March of Pride’. Police made numerous arrests, using stun grenades and water cannon to contain the crowds.

Also on rt.com Police use stun grenades & water cannons during anti-Lukashenko protests in Belarus, multiple journalists detained (VIDEOS)

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