Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

EU removes 24 Belarusian individuals, seven companies from its blacklist

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union on October 30 lifted its sanctions against 24 citizens of Belarus and seven Belarusian companies.

At the same time, the Council of the EU prolonged the existing restrictive measures against Belarus until October 31, 2015. “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 Council says in a press release.

“The review updates the list of persons and entities targeted as the Council considered there were no longer grounds for keeping 24 persons and seven entities under restrictions,” the press release says. “This decision does not reflect any change in the EU`s policy towards Belarus, as set out in the Council conclusions of 15 October 2012: 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.”

The legal acts, adopted by written procedure, will be published in the EU Official Journal on Friday and will take effect then, the Council says.

The EU`s sanctions comprise an arms embargo, an embargo on equipment for internal repression as well as asset freezes and travel bans against persons responsible for human rights violations, the press release says, adding that “associated entities” are subject to an asset freeze.

A total of 201 individuals, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, will be subject to travel bans and all of them plus 18 economic entities will subject to asset freezes within the EU starting Friday.

The EU Council drew up the blacklist in January 2011, following a brutal police crackdown on a post-election protest in Minsk. The list was repeatedly extended and included as many as 243 Belarusian individuals and 32 business entities at one point.