MEPs call for sanctions against Lukashenko and Navalny's poisoners
The European Parliament (EP) in a resolution today called on the states of the European Union to adopt sanctions against officials of the Belarussian regime, including authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Minsk immediately responded with concern. MEPs also approved another resolution, in which they strongly condemned the attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, for which the European bloc should again hit the culprits. According to the text, they are either directly connected with the Russian authorities, or Moscow violated its international obligations when the poison from the newcomers’ hands fell into the hands of unauthorized persons.
In a resolution approved by a large majority of 574 votes out of 693, deputies criticized the August “so-called presidential election,” based on which the Belarusian authorities declared Lukashenko president for the sixth term. According to MEPs, the election, which was not recognized by the Belarusian opposition or the EU, was “a flagrant violation of all internationally recognized standards,”
The EP has condemned the violent repression of mass opposition protests, in which tens of thousands of people gather on the streets despite elections since the election. He also called for new, this time democratic elections. According to lawmakers, the EU should impose sanctions on people responsible for electoral manipulation and repression of protests, including Lukashenko.
EU diplomacy has prepared a list of about 40 Belarusian officials to whom it wants to freeze assets in the EU and ban travel on the bloc territory. Foreign ministers could approve it on Monday. However, Lukashenko is not involved, as some countries, including presiding Germany, prioritize diplomatic negotiations.
Lukashenko’s Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to the EP’s move. According to him, the resolution shows a misunderstanding of what is happening in Belarus now and a “complete detachment from reality,” for which the European Parliament is “often criticized by citizens within the EU itself.”
Five hundred thirty-two deputies today voted in favor of the resolution, which called the attack on Navalny part of systematic attempts to silence the Russian opposition. According to the EP, Moscow should cooperate in the case’s international investigation and enable the perpetrators to be punished.
According to MEPs, EU states should put together a proposal for new sanctions against Russia and those responsible as soon as possible, while strengthening existing sanctions.
Navalny, a leading critic of the Kremlin, collapsed in August on a return flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was first hospitalized in Omsk, where doctors claimed that laboratory tests showed no signs of poisoning or other toxic substances. He was then transported to Germany, where experts concluded that he was beyond any doubt poisoned by a paralytic substance from a group of novices. Russian authorities refuse to take part in the attack. EU foreign minister Josep Borrell has not ruled out EU sanctions but wants to wait for the investigation.