Belarus’s three former political prisoners have urged the EU not to remove sanctions on Minsk until Belarusian authorities fulfill all EU conditions for normalizing the bilateral relations, including the rehabilitation of former political prisoners and significant improvements in the human rights situation.
In a letter addressed to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, ex-presidential candidates Andrey Sannikau and Mikalay Statkevich, and human rights activist Ales Byalyatski sent a reminder to Brussels that the Council of the European Union made its visa and financial sanctions against Minsk conditional not only on the release of all political prisoners but also on their rehabilitation.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered the release of several remaining political prisoners in the run-up to the October 11 presidential polls but no steps have thus far been taken to restore their civic rights.
Following the violent crackdown of a post election opposition protest in Minsk on December 19, 2010, the EU imposed travel and financial sanctions on more than 200 Belarusian officials and companies that provided financial support to the ruling regime.
Last week in Brussels ambassadors of the 28 EU member states reportedly agreed that sanctions against Belarus should be extended – but also suspended – for an unspecified number of individuals for a limited period of time. This step will be taken after the October 11 presidential election only “if there is no deterioration of the situation in the context of the elections.”