Europe

EU imposes new sanctions against Belarus

Bloc adds 17 individuals, 11 entities to blacklist over human rights violations, instrumentalization of migration for political purposes

Agnes Szucs   | 03.12.2021
EU imposes new sanctions against Belarus Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visits migrants waiting at the closed area allocated by Belarusian government on the Belarusian-Polish border in Grodno, Belarus on November 26, 2021. ( Sefa Karacan - Anadolu Agency )

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The European Union imposed a new round of sanctions against Belarus on Thursday, targeting among others its national airline and tourism companies in response to the migration crisis at the bloc’s borders with the country. 

The Council of the EU decided to add 17 individuals and 11 entities to the bloc’s blacklist over human rights violations, the EU institutions representing member states announced in a statement.

The fifth round of sanctions target “high-ranking political officials of the Lukashenko regime as well as companies (such as Belavia Airlines), tour operators and hotels that have helped incite and organize illegal border crossings through Belarus to the EU and in this way participated in the instrumentalization of migration for political purposes,” the statement said.

Prominent members of the judiciary and state-run propaganda outlets were also blacklisted for their contribution to “the repression of civil society, democratic opposition, independent media outlets and journalists,” the document said.

The update brings the number of individuals targeted by an asset freeze and travel ban to 183.

In addition, the bloc forbids EU operators to make funds available for a total of 26 Belarusian entities.

EU countries bordering Belarus -- Lithuania, Latvia and Poland -- have reported a dramatically growing number of irregular crossings since August.

Over 8,000 people have tried to enter the bloc via the Belarus-EU border so far this year, up sharply from just 150 last year

The EU accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of taking revenge against EU sanctions imposed on his regime over human rights violations related to a crackdown on protests against last years’ rigged presidential elections and the diversion in June of a Ryanair flight to the capital Minsk and the detention of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich.

According to the EU, the Belarusian regime reached out to potential travelers via seemingly official channels and invited them to Belarus by offering visas and guiding them to the EU border.

NATO and the EU consider Belarus’ approach towards migrants a hybrid attack meant to destabilize and undermine security in European countries through non-military means.

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