EU prepares new sanctions against Belarus - media

The European Union is preparing a new round of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities in response to a court ruling to jail three opposition figures, the EUobserver online paper said on Thursday.

Three Belarusian opposition activists, Alexander Atroshenkov, Alexander Molchanov and Dmitry Novik, were sentenced to prison terms of up to four years for taking part in large scale protests following the announcement of the results of the country's presidential elections in December.

"The new measures are designed to cause pain for the leader's state budget and private income but to avoid a shock to the country's economy or to EU companies in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland," the news portal said.

It said the sanctions would target officials suspected of stealing money from Belarus's Belneftekhim and Triple oil firms, the Beltechexport arms producer and the Belaruskalii fertilizer company.

The sanctions are being drafted by the embassies of EU members in Minsk and may be approved by EU foreign ministers in April.

The United States and EU imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on Lukashenko and 157 other state and government officials in February in response to the crackdown on protesters after the elections.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for more than 15 years, won a fourth term in office with almost 80 percent of the vote. More than 600 people were detained during large-scale protests that broke out in the capital, Minsk.

BRUSSELS, March 10 (RIA Novosti)


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