İrem UZUN -TDO- As the political crisis in Belarus deepens, the EU is about to launch new measures targeting the country's firms and entrepreneurs. Sanctions to date have focused on senior individuals in the Lukashenko regime.
European Union foreign ministers have agreed to expand sanctions on Belarus to include businesses in response to the “brutality of authorities” against weeks of pro-democracy protests triggered by a disputed presidential election in August. According to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, previous sanctions on strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka and dozens of senior officials failed to halt repression. In that regard, he said on November 19 that the new set of sanctions “should go not only to the individuals, but also to institutions and entrepreneurs, and firms.” The move "will affect normal economic activity" in the country, Borrell said.
The country’s largest telecoms company, state-owned Beltelecom, is accused of cutting off internet and mobile data services to hamper protesters’ ability to coordinate, diplomats and human rights group say. Till now, the EU being the largest donor of financial assistance to Belarus sanctioned 40 Belarus officials on October 2 and has since expanded the number targeted. Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the election she says she won, urged EU leaders this week to impose “targeted financial sanctions against people ... Who are in the pockets of Lukashenko”.