Belarus Leader to Face Renewed EU Travel Ban After Crackdown

By James G. Neuger

The European Union will reimpose a visa ban on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and top associates to protest the regime's crackdown on opponents after last month's election, a senior EU official said.

Roughly 160 officials of the former Soviet republic will be subject to the travel ban to be announced at a Jan. 31 meeting of EU foreign ministers, the official told reporters in Brussels today on condition of anonymity.

A five-year-old asset freeze on 40 officials including Lukashenko remains in effect. Lukashenko's travel ban, first imposed in 2006, had been eased in 2008 in an attempt to encourage him to loosen his grip on power.

Lukashenko won a fourth term on Dec. 19 with an officially declared 79.7 percent of the vote, prompting protests in Minsk that led to more than 700 arrests. The U.S. also rejected his re-election as illegitimate.

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