Last year we reported here that the European Union had extended its Belarus sanctions until 31 October 2014. The Council of the European Union has announced today that it will extend those measures for another year, until 31 October 2015. According to the press release, this is because “not all political prisoners have been released and rehabilitated, and the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not significantly improved in Belarus.”
The EU first imposed restrictive measures on President Lukashenko and some Belarusian officials in May 2006, by Regulation 765/2006. The sanctions were extended in 2012 and 2013, and consist of an arms embargo, an embargo on equipment for internal repression, and a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities said to be responsible for serious human rights violations, whose activities seriously undermine democracy or the rule of law in Belarus, or who benefit from or support the Lukashenka regime.
The new Decision and Regulation de-list 24 people and 7 entities because the EU considers there are no longer grounds for keeping them on the sanctions list. The press release states that this “does not reflect any change in the EU’s policy towards Belarus … the EU maintains its policy of critical engagement with Belarus, intended to promote the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles in Belarus.” A notice for people and entities that remain listed is here.