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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs