Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Office for Democratic Belarus suggests that EU should revise blacklist of Belarusians

The Brussels-based Office for Democratic Belarus has questioned the European Unions blacklist of Belarusians allegedly involved in the persecution of pro-democratic activists, suggesting that it should be revised, BelaPAN said.

The EU should remove from it the rectors of the countrys universities, among other persons, Office head Volha Stuzhynskaya said in an interview with European Radio for Belarus on February 1.

Their presence on the list is "illogical" in the context of efforts to increase cooperation with Belarus higher education institutions to bring them closer to European standards, she said.

The Office also suggests removing from the list Uladzimir Peftsiyew, a businessman described by the EU as Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s chief economic advisor and a key financial sponsor of his regime.

"Why only this businessman?" said Ms. Stuzhynkaya. "On what grounds was exactly this man selected? Many other people should then have been blacklisted, too".

Commenting on the Offices proposal, Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy, told BelaPAN that the withdrawal of some people would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the whole list.

He said that a group of well-known Belarusian opposition politicians had been behind the campaign, refusing to disclose their names. "It should be noted that the Office for Democratic Belarus decides nothing, with Volha Stuzhynskaya and her group just acting on instructions from Belarusian opposition groups, said Mr. Rymashewski. "It means that Volha is not responsible for the proposal".

He added that it had been difficult for the 27 EU member states to work out a coordinated position on the bloc`s restrictive measures against Minsk, expressing fears that the revision of the list could shatter it.

But the list should be updated to remove the names of those who have already died, he added.

On January 31, 2011, the EU Council imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 156 Belarusian government officials and other individuals for their role in "the violations of international electoral standards" in the December 14-19, 2010 presidential election and a post-election crackdown on civil society and pro-democratic supporters. The Council blacklisted 19 more Belarusians in March, 13 in May, four in June and 16 in October, placing on the list mostly judges and prosecutors involved in the prosecution of post-election protesters. In December, it added the judge and the prosecutor in the trial of prominent human rights defender Ales Byalyatski to the list.

The list currently features 201 Belarusians.