EU Parliament calls for more sanctions on Belarus


Following the May 23 forced landing of a Ryanair plane travelling between two EU capitals and the arrest of blogger Roman Protasevich in Belarus, the European Parliament has called for further sanctions on the hardline regime in Minsk.

Punitive measures should be taken against the crude oil-processing industry, the production of petroleum products, and the potash, steel and wood-processing industries, it said in a resolution adopted on Thursday.

In addition, cooperation with state-owned Belarusian banks should be stopped, reports dpa news agency.

Consideration should also be given to temporarily excluding Belarus from the Swift payment system.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs commissioner, said during Tuesday’s plenary debate that he hoped the bloc’s member states would adopt further punitive measures on Belarus at the next summit. For the first time, targeted economic sanctions had been agreed upon.

Belarusian authorities forced the Ryanair passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius to make a stopover in Minsk and arrested the government critic Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega on board.

The EU then reimposed sanctions on the former Soviet republic. Since last Saturday, Belarusian airlines are no longer allowed to fly into the bloc’s airspace.

Due to the ongoing repression of the democracy movement in Belarus, the EU had already adopted several packages of sanctions targeting President Alexander Lukashenko’s supporters last year.

Russia’s possible role in the case should be investigated and, if necessary, sanctions imposed on those responsible, they said.

MEPs also backed a call by Belarusian opposition activist Svetlana Tikhanovskaya for the establishment of an international criminal court to hold the leadership in Minsk accountable.