EU parliament draft resolution urges entry ban for Belarusian officials

The European Parliament has drawn up a draft resolution urging European leaders to impose an entry ban and asset freeze on the Belarusian officials responsible for a crackdown on the opposition after recent disputed polls.

The document will be voted on by European lawmakers later on Thursday. The sanctions would affect the Belarusian authorities, possibly including President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as court and security officials

More than 600 people, including opposition candidates, journalists and human rights activists, were detained during opposition rallies following the December 19 polls, which saw Lukashenko elected for a fourth term.

Several presidential candidates still remain in custody at the KGB pre-trial detention center in Minsk.

Sanctions against the officials should remain in place until all those detained during the opposition protests are freed from jails and cleared of charges, the draft resolution says.

European MPs also welcomed a decision by the Polish government and the Lithuanian parliament to impose a travel ban on top Belarusian officials allegedly responsible for the crackdown and ease entry regulations for ordinary Belarusians.

The document also calls for EU leaders to review their policies towards Belarus, including a possible introduction of economic sanctions and a freeze on financial aide to the Belarusian government, proposing instead to provide help to civil society groups and organizations.

The draft resolution also suggests that Belarus should be deprived of its right to host international sports competitions, such as an ice-hockey championship scheduled for 2014, until all the political prisoners are freed.

The EU earlier imposed a travel ban on Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator", and other Belarusian top officials following the 2006 presidential elections. The polls, described by international observers as fraudulent, saw large-scale protest demonstrations which were brutally dispersed by police.

The ban was however suspended in 2008 in a move aimed to "encourage Belarus to move closer to the European Union." In October 2010, the Council of the European Union prolonged the suspension of an entry ban against President Lukashenko and 35 Belarusian government officials until October 31, 2011.

BRUSSELS, January 20 (RIA Novosti)


Partners: Social Network