Belarus retaliates against West with sanctions

MINSK: Belarus said on Thursday it had barred entry to European Union and US officials in retaliation to a similar ban by Western countries to denounce President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election. Western countries, long critical of Lukashenko's tough line on dissent, dismissed as blatantly rigged Lukashenko's landslide victory in March giving him a third term in office. Both the EU and Washington barred the president and more than 30 other officials linked to the election. Sanctions also included a freeze of bank deposits held by officials abroad. "Retaliatory measures have been introduced for the European Union and United States," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Popov told a briefing. "They are based on the principle of reciprocity." Popov declined to reveal who was on the list. "The list contains the most offensive political figures who have shown themselves to be in the forefront of not wishing our country well," he told reporters. "These are people who actively interfered in Belarus's internal affairs during the election campaign. These are people who continue to appeal for the imposition of serious economic sanctions against our country." Minsk had previously refrained from retaliatory moves, though it barred flights by aircraft carrying US and Canadian delegations after those countries refused to refuel a plane taking Belarus's prime minister to and from Cuba. Reuters