EU threatens Belarus with sanctions

Czech Republic has called on the European Union to impose tough sanctions against Belarus, after opposition politicians were detained following last month's disputed presidential election

The European Union is considering threatening Belarus to immediately release political prisoners, who have been detained after last month's disputed elections, or face sanctions.

The EU is expected to issue an ultimatum to Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov on Wednesday after reports of beatings and arrests were aimed at the opposition.

The EU's possible move is likely to come in the wake of Belarus' decision to retain 21 opposition politicians under detention at the KGB's pretrial detention center in Minsk.

The detainees have absolutely no access to lawyers. The government authorities have charged the detainees with organization and participation in mass riots - the crimes, if proved against them, could send them to 15 years imprisonment.

On Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg urged the EU to show their tough stance to Belarus.

Talking to reporters, he said that it was difficult for him to imagine having friendly relations with Belarus as long as opposition politicians sit in jail.

He added that his country does not consider Belarus a part of the EU as long as the political crisis lasts in Minsk.


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