Brussels.- The European Union, USA, the UK Y Canada they redoubled their pressure on the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, this Monday with the imposition of coordinated sanctions, in reaction to the diversion of a plane in May to arrest an opponent.
“We are united in our deep concern over the continued attacks by the regime of Lukashenko against human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law, “they said in a joint statement.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the measures “demonstrate the strong transatlantic commitment to support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people.”
Both the European Union (EU) as the United States sanctioned dozens of individuals and entities for the brutal repression exercised against the opposition since Lukashenko he declared himself the winner in last August’s elections, which the western countries described as fraudulent.
In addition, the 27 countries of the bloc and the United Kingdom added seven officials – including the Belarusian ministers of Defense and Transport – to their blacklist of those sanctioned for the diversion of a commercial flight operated by Ryanair at the end of May.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU, meeting in Luxembourg, also approved measures to penalize important sources of income for the Belarusian regime: exports of potassium fertilizers, the tobacco industry, oil and petrochemical products.
The head of diplomacy of the EUJosep Borrell pointed out that economic sanctions should be formally adopted shortly.
“Today we have confirmed and decided that sectoral sanctions will be taken,” which “will massively affect Belarus and state revenues, on which it depends. Lukashenko and his regime, “said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas before the meeting.
“We want the release of political prisoners and an end to violence against protesters and opposition, and an inclusive dialogue that leads to freedom and free and fair elections,” he added.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tijanóvskaya applauded the coordinated sanctions, saying they send a “strong” signal to the Lukashenko regime.
“It is a clear message to the regime that we continue to work together against human rights violence, against illegality,” Tijanóvskaya said in an interview with AFP in Brussels.
The Belarusian president sparked a wave of international outrage by intercepting, on May 23, a Ryanair commercial airliner covering the route between Greece and Lithuania.
When the aircraft was forced to land in Minsk, Belarusian authorities arrested critical journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who were on board.
The EU it responded quickly, blocking Belarusian airlines’ access to the bloc’s airspace and asking companies from its member countries not to cross Belarusian airspace.
Last year, the community bloc already ordered sanctions against 88 individuals – including the president Lukashenko and his son – for the violent repression of the demonstrations that took place in the country after the elections.
USA It already imposed a series of sanctions on Belarusian state-owned companies in May, after authorities forced the Ryanair plane to land on the grounds of a bomb threat.
Belarusian authorities detained thousands of protesters during protests last year, and according to the EU, there are still around 500 political prisoners imprisoned.
“We are clearly showing that Stalinism and state terrorism no longer have a place in the 21st century,” said Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.
To date, Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has ignored international pressure, relying on his key ally, Russia.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis denounced that Belarus is responding by sending migrants, mostly Iraqis and Syrians, across its border.
The official warned that the arrival of migrants could increase after the approval of the sanctions and that Lithuania “may need help and assistance from other European countries” to manage the situation.