Belarus lashes out over EU sanctions

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday ordered the government to respond to the European Parliament's sanctions against him and scores of other officials.

"If anybody attempts to impose economic or any other sanctions against the country, we should respond and prepare counter-measures," Lukashenko told a government meeting.

"We will not let anyone manipulate us... It concerns everybody who wants to pressure the country, be it an individual country or the EU as a whole," he said.

Lukashenko - dubbed "Europe's last dictator" - said the plot against Belarus was hatched in Germany and neighboring Poland.

Earlier on Thursday, the European Parliament voted to impose sanctions against Lukashenko and his top aides involved in post-election beatings and arrests.

Over 600 people, including opposition candidates, journalists and human rights activists, were beaten and detained as riots followed the December 19 re-election of Lukashenko in a poll described by Western observers as "flawed."

The sanctions, including a travel ban and freeze on assets, will remain in place until all the detainees are released.

Lukashenko and 40 other officials were initially banned from entering the EU in 2006, but restrictions were suspended two years later amid signs of a tentative political thaw in Belarus.

MINSK, January 20 (RIA Novosti)


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