News / Europe

EU, US Slap Sanctions on Belarus

Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko takes his oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in Minsk, January 21, 2011
Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko takes his oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in Minsk, January 21, 2011
Albina Kovalyova

European Union foreign ministers have imposed sanctions against Belarus in response to the violent arrests and imprisonment of opposition politicians following presidential elections last December.  The sanctions target members of the government headed by President Alexander Lukashenko. The US also followed with an announcement of travel bans and asset freezes targeting the same list of officials.

The sanctions include travel bans to the European Union for 158 top Belarussian officials, including President  Alexander Lukashenko and his two elder sons. All European bank accounts of Belarussian leaders will also be frozen.

The 27 foreign ministers to the European Union said that the sanctions were punishment for the treatment of opposition politicians and protesters in December.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Minsk to protest the election results.  According to Belarussian authorities, Mr. Lukashenko got nearly 80 percent of the vote.  But the OSCE said the the election was seriously flawed.

More than 600 people were arrested, including five opposition presidential candidates.  Opposition leaders Andrei Sannikov and Viktor Neklyaev were also beaten before being taken away by officers of an agency still called the KGB in Belarus.

Mr. Neklyaev was unexpectedly released from prison Saturday and placed under house arrest, in an apparent last-minute attempt to appease the Europeans.  But Mr. Sannikov, two other opposition politicians, and more than 20 other protesters remain behind bars. They are facing up to 15-years imprisonment.

The violent treatment of opposition candidates was met with international condemnation.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement voicing their concern for the treatment of the opposition in Belarus.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and  Human Rights Thomas Melia said that the aftermath of the presidential elections in Belarus was a continuing obstacle to normalizing relations with the country.

"Any kind of return to improvement in our relationship requires fundamentally the immediate release of dozens of people that have been incarcerated and the dropping of charges against all those who have been charges with offenses supposedly related to the events of December 19," he said.

Last week, Lukashenko threatened to retaliate against sanctions from the European Union.  The Belarussian head of state scorned the EU for condenming the presidential elections.  He also accused Poland and Germany of financing the opposition candidates and plotting to overthrow his regime.

Neklyaev, as well as the jailed opposition members are awaiting trial. But no dates have been set for any legal procedings.

Meanwhile, 10 peaceful demonstrators were arrested late Sunday outside KGB headquarters.  The protesters were there to show support for jailed opposition leaders.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid