Compact, Belarus and Russia announce retaliatory sanctions for EU
Windowofworld.com – Belarus announced that it was imposing sanctions on the European Union (EU), and threatened to revise the country’s diplomatic relations with the bloc. The move was in response to sanctions imposed by the EU on dozens of Belarusian officials accused of falsifying the results of the presidential election and leading a crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Russia has said it will also follow Belarusian sanctions over the block of the Blue Continent.
The European Union in the early hours of Friday decided to impose sanctions on about 40 officials, except for President Alexander Lukashenko, who was re-elected in August in a vote the opposition considers rigged.
In response to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus issued a statement announcing its own sanctions against European officials.
“The Belarusian side, starting today, has imposed a list of retaliatory sanctions,” the statement read as quoted by The Associated Press, Saturday (3/10/2020).
However, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry did not disclose the list and did not provide details on how many officials were on it.
According to the statement, if the EU further raises the “flywheel of sanctions,” there could be more serious consequences such as Belarus withdrawing from joint programs and projects or revising its diplomatic relations with the bloc.
“Belarus has always been, in word and deed, against confrontation. We want dialogue and understanding. But as a sovereign state, we are also determined, though not without regret, to respond to unfriendly actions to naturally defend our national interests, “the statement read.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the EU’s move.
“The Belarusian list of retaliatory sanctions, taking effect today, will automatically be used by Russia,” he said.
He said the move was in line with obligations under the union agreement between Belarus and Russia.
The official results of the presidential election on August 9 gave Lukashenko, who has led Belarus for 26 years, a landslide victory by 80% of the vote. His main challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, only got 10%. He and his supporters refused to recognize the result, and mass protests have rocked Belarus since then with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets demanding Lukashenko’s resignation.
The government immediately responded brutally to the protests following the vote. Police detained thousands of people and injured many with batons, rubber bullets and stun grenades, provoking international outrage.
The Belarusian government has recently reduced violence, but continues to suppress, detain hundreds of protesters and prosecute top activists. Many of the leading members of the Coordination Council, which was formed by the opposition to push for a transition of power, have been arrested or forced to leave the country.
Tsikhanouskaya is currently in exile in Lithuania. Her top colleague Maria Kolesnikova remains in prison on charges of undermining state security that can carry a five-year prison sentence if she is convicted.