July 29, 2021

European Union adopts new sanctions against Minsk after hijacking of Ryanair flight

The member states of the European Union (EU) approved, Wednesday, June 16, the addition of 78 names and seven entities to the list of Belarusian officials sanctioned for the repression of the opposition. Seven are also involved in the hijacking of the European airliner, diplomats said. The agreement was given by the capitals during a meeting of their ambassadors in Brussels.

It will be validated on June 21 during the Council of Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg and the sanctions will become effective with the publication of the names in the Official newspaper of the EU. The Europeans are also preparing sectoral economic sanctions, which will come on top of the decision of EU countries to ban Belarusian companies from accessing their airspace, the measure primarily targeting the national company Belavia.

These new sanctions were decided in reaction to the decision of the Belarusian authorities to divert to Minsk a plane of the Irish company Ryanair connecting Athens to Vilnius and take the opportunity to arrest two of its passengers, the Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protassevich and his companion Russian, Sofia Sapega. Seven people, including several senior regime officials, were held responsible for this diversion.

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Residence ban and seizure of assets

These new sanctions, imposed on Wednesday, to 78 people and seven entities are individual. They will be banned and their assets in the EU will be seized. It will also be prohibited to grant European funding to the entities concerned. The EU had already sanctioned 88 members of the regime, including President Alexander Lukashenko and his son.

The economic sanctions under discussion aim to hit the regime in the wallet. “Europeans are still reluctant to take economic sanctions, but this time we really have to take measures that Lukashenko will feel the weight of”, explained the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

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Among the economic sanctions envisaged are the exports of potash, of which Belarus is a large producer, and the gas pipeline through which part of the gas purchased by the EU from Russia passes, “Which could arrive by another gas pipeline”, he had specified.

The World with AFP