EU prepares to add Belarus leader to sanctions list

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The European Union on Monday said Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko will be added to its sanctions list, if the situation in the country does not improve.

In a statement, the European Council said Belarus presidential elections on Aug. 9 “were neither free nor fair and that Aleksandr Lukashenko lacks any democratic legitimacy.”

It called for “new, free and fair elections, without external interference.”

“The Council strongly condemns the violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, and calls for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners,” the statement added.

“The conclusions recall the restrictive measures imposed on 40 individuals responsible for the fraudulent nature of the presidential elections and the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, and state the EU’s readiness to take further restrictive measures against entities and high-ranking officials, including Aleksandr Lukashenko, if the situation does not improve,” it added.

The bloc also called on Belarus to engage in an inclusive dialogue with citizens and said it is “ready to support a peaceful democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus.”

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