Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

EU Prepares Fourth Package Of Sanctions Against Belarus, Considers 165 Names


EU Prepares Fourth Package Of Sanctions Against Belarus, Considers 165 Names
The European Union is preparing to adopt the fourth package of sanctions against Belarusian officials and those who take part in arrests, tortures, beatings of peaceful demonstrators, and human rights violations in Belarus. The new package may be adopted in late February or early March, Franak Vyachorko, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s advisor on international affairs, told TUT.BY.

As of today, 208 people have already been included in the sanctions lists – these are people who, according to the EU, participated in falsifications, Lukashenko’s “wallets”, security officials, immediate entourage, and Lukashenko himself. Those people are in sanctions lists by the European Union, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Switzerland, Canada, and Great Britain.

“Some states are more daring, like the Baltic ones, others, like the EU have a smaller list. Our task now is for these lists to be synchronous, so that the lists between all countries coincide and that the restrictions are implemented in the same way. We want them to include not only a travel ban, but also financial restrictions, blocking of accounts so that these people cannot open their private businesses, “launder” money, or control corruption schemes.

It is very important that those 208 people who have already been included in the sanctions lists could not continue their activities. It should work as punishment, because sanctions are a type of punishment in a situation when lawlessness reigns in the country,” explains Franak Vyachorko.

The representative of Tikhanovskaya emphasises: it is important that the list of the European Union, which is relatively small, should include more individuals and legal entities associated specifically with human rights violations, violence against demonstrators, falsified elections, as well as those people who sponsor Lukashenko’s regime. The new list, according to the Tikhanovskaya Office, may include 165 more people.

“As of today, there are 165 names on the table of European officials. This is in addition to those 90 individuals and legal entities that have already been included in the restrictive lists. We don’t know how many of them will be included in the fourth package of sanctions, can’t tell for sure, because legal groups, working groups in the EU countries check the evidence base, all documents, whether there is evidence of crimes and offenses for each person on the list.

Only after legal review by working groups, this draft is submitted to a vote on the adoption of sanctions. The most important thing is that the names of people who are guilty of specific crimes appeared on these lists: there is the name of Nikolai Karpenkov, the heads of the police department – all those who violated human rights and laws,” says Tikhanovskaya’s advisor.

Today, Belarus is not on the agenda in the European Union, officials there are now discussing COVID-19, vaccines, Russia, and the issue of Belarus was not even raised at the last meeting of EU ministers. The meeting of EU foreign ministers, at which the issue of the fourth package of sanctions will be submitted, may take place in late February or early March.

“If I’m not mistaken, the next meeting of EU foreign ministers is in the 20 February, the agenda is not there yet, much depends on the events in Belarus and whether the sanctions lists will be checked and fully prepared. Sanctions are taken in response to what is happening in the country. For example, I am sure that as soon as the trials of Belsat journalists Katerina Andreeva and Daria Chultsova and TUT.BY journalist Katerina Borisevich begin, both the fourth and fifth package of sanctions will be quickly adopted.

Sanctions play a deterrent role, Lukashenko must understand that any action against the people of Belarus will lead to consequences. More than 170 people were detained in the country last weekend. I think this is a reason for European officials to put Belarus on the agenda and adopt the fourth package of sanctions as soon as possible,” adds Vyachorko.

The task of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s Office, her adviser explains, is, on the one hand, to increase pressure on the regime, cut off the sources of its funding, isolate it as much as possible, and on the other hand, to help the Belarusian civil society.

“When we talk with the Europeans about financial restrictions for Lukashenko and his “wallets”, we also talk about support for the Belarusian business in the same amount that the Belarusian economy can potentially lose from the sanctions. This is called smart economic pressure: that is, the money that goes, for example, to Lukashenko’s ministries, should be reoriented to private business, small entrepreneurs who have suffered from the regime.

We are now also working more with business companies that supply or purchase some products from companies associated with the Office of the President in order to cut off these contacts as much as possible. We can possibly achieve more through businesses than through individual sanctions. But sanctions are also important so that no one goes unpunished,” explains Franak Vyachorko.