Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Shortening of EUs blacklist is entirely logical, political analyst says

By Artsyom Shraybman, BelaPAN

The shortening of the European Unions list of Belarusians subject to travel bans and asset freezes is entirely logical for the current state of relations between the EU and Belarus, Dzyanis Melyantsow, a senior analyst at the Vilnius-based Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, told BelaPAN.

On Tuesday, the Council of the European Union lifted entry bans and asset freezes against eight citizens of Belarus and added one new Belarusian individual to its blacklist.

According to Mr. Melyantsow, most of the Belarusian individuals who are no longer subject to EU sanctions were removed from the blacklist because they had been dismissed from their former positions or had resigned. He suggested that the EU had been planning to lift its restrictive measures against them anyway but needed some pretext. The recent release of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski as well as talks on draft visa facilitation and readmission agreements and modernizations issues have provided the necessary occasion, Mr. Melyantsow said. I have no doubt that theres already a list of officials who will be removed from the blacklist the next time. This is standards practice. Instead of making one big concession, the EU makes a small one to get Minsk to take the desired steps.

Mr. Melyantsow predicted that the Belarusian government would gradually release political prisoners while the EU would keep shortening its blacklist without scrapping it altogether.

A total of 225 individuals, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, are currently subject to travel bans and all of them plus 25 economic entities are subject to asset freezes within the EU.

The blacklist was drawn up in January 2011, following a brutal police crackdown on a post-election protest in Minsk. The list was repeatedly extended until it included 243 Belarusian individuals and 32 business entities.