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EU sanctions Lukashenko, son for crackdown on Belarus protests



The EU has slapped sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, along with 14 other officials, for repression of the pro-democracy movement following August’s contested election.

The asset freezes and travel bans were implemented on Friday following an EU ambassadors’ agreement earlier this week.

They came in response to “violent repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists,” according to a statement.

Lukashenko’s son and also national security advisor, Viktor, is among those targeted by the new measures.

There have been mass protests against Lukashenko every weekend in Minsk for nearly three months, following an Aug. 9 presidential election that protesters alleged was rigged.

Last Sunday alone, 300 people were detained, according to the Interior Ministry. Photos and videos showed security forces using flash and shock grenades against the peaceful crowd.

The Belarusian leader was initially spared from inclusion on the EU blacklist imposed early last month on 40 officials accused of fraud and of rights abuses.

Diplomats had feared that adding his name to the list could exacerbate the crisis.

Belarusian officials have repeatedly accused the EU of interfering in their domestic affairs.

EU foreign ministers agreed in October to add Lukashenko’s name to the bloc’s blacklist if no improvement was seen in the country.

Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus, a former Soviet Republic between Russia and several EU member states, for more than a quarter of a century, tolerating little dissent.

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