Ian Patrick, FISM News
The European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus’ interior minister and the head of its electoral commission but spared President Alexander Lukashenko. Publishing the names of the 40 individuals that EU leaders agreed to sanction in response to a supposedly rigged Aug. 9 election, the EU list included commanders, security officials and prison directors. Lukashenko is not on the EU’s list, however. Despite pressure from the EU’s Baltic states, the bloc is sticking to its policy of punishing power brokers as a last resort, so as to push for new elections.
Interior Minister Yuri Karaev and his deputy are the most senior officials to be targeted. The draft list faced a series of delays as the EU’s decision-making became entangled in internal conflicts. The bloc’s sanctions aim to support pro-democracy protests in Minsk against Lukashenko, whom opponents say has illegally prolonged his 26-year rule through a fraudulent vote.
The EU travel bans and asset freezes also include top security officials such as Alexander Valerievich Bykov, commander of rapid response forces and whom the EU accuses of “arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, including torture, of peaceful demonstrators.” Electoral commission chairwoman Lidia Mikhailovna Yermoshina is also now under sanctions, accused of intimidating voters and distorting the vote result.
Sourced from Reuters America Wire, edited for brevity