The European Union has imposed a fourth round of sanctions against additional people and organizations responsible for repression in Belarus and the interception and forced landing of RyanAir flight 4978, according to an announcement published by the European Council.
This fourth round of sanctions includes 78 individuals and 8 entities that are known to be responsible for the escalation of human rights violations and repression in Belarus.
“The Council today decided to impose restrictive measures against 78 Belarusian individuals and 8 entities. This decision was made in view of the escalation of serious human rights violations in Belarus and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists,” the announcement reads.
In addition, 7 of the individuals and one of the entities targeted by sanctions in the fourth round were found to be responsible for the interception and forced landing of RyanAir flight 4978 in Mink on 23 May 2021. Immediately after the flight was forced to land by a Belarusian fighter plane, journalist Roman Pratasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested, leading to further human rights violations and repression of the freedom of speech and press.
Others targeted by the sanctions included prominent figures who support and benefit from President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
The purpose of the sanctions is to punish those responsible for the continued violations and send a strong message to any other backers of the regime. Moreover, the EU wants to pressure the Lukashenko regime into initiating a genuine and inclusive national dialogue with broader society and avoid further repression.
EU sanctions now apply to 166 individuals and 15 entities.
Sanctions include asset freezes on holdings in the EU and complete travel bans. Further, EU individuals and entities are forbidden from making funds available for any of the persons sanctioned against.
In addition, there is a complete ban on Belarusian flights entering or taking off from any EU airport. Further, all Belarusian aircraft are forbidden from entering EU airspace.
The Decisions made against the Belarusian regime by the EU also extend from Candidate Countries including the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania, EFTA countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, and members of the European Economic Area and Schengen Area.
The EU is ready to help Belarus transition peacefully into an actual democracy, or take further measures against the country if conditions do not improve.
“The EU stands ready to support a peaceful, democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus. We also stand ready to adopt further measures, including on other economic actors, if the situation in Belarus does not improve,” the announcement reads.
Belarus has been experiencing major troubles since the likely-rigged presidential election in 2020 sparked mass protests across the country. In response, the Lukashenko regime has committed untold numbers of human rights violations, repression of free speech, violations against the press, and more.
In response, the international community, headed in this case by the EU, has taken a hard stance against Lukashenko and his regime.