Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Economist suggests that some Belarusian companies have been removed from EU blacklist because they are not involved in arms trade

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Economist Yaraslaw Ramanchuk suggested in an interview given to BelaPAN on Friday that the European Union had removed its sanctions against some Belarusian companies because they were not involved in arms trade.

Earlier in the day, the EU Official Journal published the names of 24 individuals and seven economic entities that are no longer subject to the EUs travel bans and asset freezes. The companies are owned by Uladzimir Peftsiyew, Yury Chyzh and Anatol Tsyarnawski, Belarusian tycoons widely known as sponsors of Alyaksandr Lukashenkas regime. The travel bans and asset freezes against Messrs. Peftsiyew and Tsyarnawski have been lifted, but Mr. Chyzh remains on the EUs blacklist and so do many companies controlled by Mr. Peftsiyew, including Belarus' leading arms trader ZAT Beltechexport.

It is difficult to understand why the European Union has removed its restrictive measures against some Belarusian companies while leaving them in place for others, acknowledged Mr. Ramanchuk, head of the Ludwig von Mises think tank in Belarus.

Mr. Ramanchuk linked the prolongation of restrictive measures for Beltechexport to the current geopolitical situation in the region. Issues relating to the export of weapons and military hardware are currently considered at a military-political level, he said.

Mr. Ramanchuk suggested that the EU had lifted asset freezes against some companies owned by Messrs. Chyzh and Peftsiyew and not others because the former did not sell weapons. He emphasized the role of European law firms and lobbyists in the removal of the asset freezes.

Mr. Ramanchuk described the dialogue between Belarus and the European Union at the current stage as bargaining. The Europeans have taken a step and now the Belarusians have to do something to convince Europe that is should be moving along the same track, he said.