Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

Ashton: EU to make division on sanctions against Belarus in March

The Council of the EU Foreign Ministers is to look at a comprehensive list of Belarusian entities and businessmen to be added to the sanctions list.

This statement was made by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, at a press conference in Brussels on February 27, BelaPAN reports.

She reminded the EU Council had earlier adopted a regulation broadening the criteria of applying sanctions to Belarusian individuals and companies involved in human rights and freedoms violations. The EU adopted the criteria for slapping sanctions to touch the people responsible for the ongoing human rights violations and supporting or benefiting from the Lukashenka regime, Ashton noted.

She stressed the position of the EU remained unchanged – the Belarusian authorities should release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and respect human rights.

We remind the EU Foreign Ministers took a decision in Brussels on February 27 to add 21 Belarusian officials to the list of people subject to the assets freeze and visa ban.

Names of the officials have not been disclosed yet, but they are reported to be police and judicial officials. The list is expected to be published in the EU Official Journal within the next few days.

Businessman Yury Chyzh (Yuri Chizh) has not been put on the list.

According to Belgian EUobserver, the Belarusian businessman caused discord among the EU countries. EUobserver reports with a reference to its sources that Slovenia lobbied not including Chyzh in the list because Slovenian construction firm Riko Group won a tender to build a five-star Kempinski hotel in Minsk for 100 million euros in cooperation with Chyzh's Triple group.

The sanctions include a visa ban to the EU and assets freeze.

The EU Council adopted a regulation on February 10 broadening the criteria of imposing sanctions on Belarusian individuals and entities involved in fundamental human rights violations.

"Those amendments broaden the criteria for imposing admission restrictions and on asset freezes", the press service of the Council said. "Accordingly, such sanctions can be applied to persons responsible for serious violations of human rights or the repression of civil society and democratic opposition, and to persons and entities benefitting from or supporting the Lukashenka regime".

A political decision to impose visa restrictions and economic sanctions on Belarus was taken by the EU Council on January 31, 2011, in Brussels, when the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers approved a list of Belarusian officials responsible for human rights violations during the presidential campaign. These people are banned from entering the EU and their assets in the EU must be frozen.

The initial list included 158 names, but was extended by the EU Council later several times. Now, over 200 Belarusian officials are banned from entering to the EU.