Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

European Parliament adopts harsh resolution on Belarus

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on the European Union to impose tough sanctions against the Lukashenka regime in the wake of the governments post-election crackdown on opponents, and demanding a re-run of the December 14-19 presidential election in accordance with international standards.

The EU must impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Belarusian government officials, members of the judiciary and security officers involved in the governments "violent" post-election crackdown, the MEPs say in the resolution adopted at its plenary session in Strasbourg. Lifting these measures should be conditional upon the release of the government`s political opponents, they say.

The resolution condemns in "the strongest terms possible" the brutal dispersal of the December 19 post-election protest in Minsk and the jailing of hundreds of people over it, and "calls for an independent and impartial international investigation into the events" under the auspices of the OSCE, said the EPs press office.

The MEPs say in the resolution that further targeted economic sanctions against the Belarusian government should be considered, such as a freeze of all financial aid provided by the International Monetary Fund, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

They call on the EU to facilitate its visa regime for Belarusian citizens and amplify its financial support to independent media outlets, including Belsat TV, European Radio for Belarus and Radio Racyja, and NGOs promoting democracy and "opposing the regime." At the same time, the European Commission`s assistance to state-owned media outlets in the country must be halted, they say.

The MEPs also express concern about the fate of the small son of prominent journalist Iryna Khalip who is held in the KGB detention center along with her husband, former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw, over the election-night protest. The three-year-old is now cared for by Ms. Khalips parents. Her mother is set to apply for custody of the child, but many fear that the authorities may reject the request and place the boy in institutional care to mount pressure on the journalist.