Minsk hit with more sanctions

May 23, 2011 at 3:01 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, May 23 (UPI) -- The European Council announced Monday it was tightening sanctions against officials in Belarus following the sentencing of an opposition leader.

The European government said it added 13 names to the list of sanctioned individuals in Belarus. That list includes President Alexander Lukashenko.

The council said the sanctions were in part a response for the sentencing of Andrey Sannikaw to five years in prison following controversial December elections. Sannikaw challenged Lukashenko, the first and only president of an independent Belarus.

"The council adopted legislation today to strengthen the restrictive measures imposed on the Belarus regime, following the recent sentences on the former presidential candidate Sannikaw and on a number of members of the political opposition and civil society," a European statement read. "It placed a further 13 individuals on the list of designated persons subject to travel restrictions and an assets freeze."

The names of those targeted weren't published.

The post-election period that brought another term for Lukashenko, the first and only president of an independent Belarus, was marred by widespread unrest that saw six presidential candidates and at least 600 anti-government protesters detained.

Washington had said the "disproportionate" use of force by Minsk against opposition candidates in December was a "major" step in the wrong direction for the former Soviet republic.

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