President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is going to be put back on the so called EU visa ban list together with a number of other Belarusian officials deemed responsible for recent harrassment of opposition leaders.
This has been made clear by Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, as cited by EU Observer.
"We have to follow the logic of our previous policies. The last time, when we no longer had political prisoners, we took positive steps. Now we have many more prisoners and those who took part in the actions which took place and those who collaborated with them will inevitably come back on the list. I find it highly likely that he was involved in the actions which took place," Bildt said with respect to Lukanshenko who was reelected as the President of Belarus at the end of December in elections that drew much criticism from the West, especially since they were accompanied with arrests and beatings of opposition protesters.
The EU imposed visa sanctions on Mr Lukashenko and 40 officials in the wake of a similar but less harsh post-election crackdown in 2006. The bloc suspended the ban for 36 of the names in 2008 following the release of high-level political prisoners in a move which later saw the Belarusian leader visit Italy.
EU embassies in Minsk are currently preparing a new list which will be forwarded to a meeting of the member states' Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels on Friday. One EU diplomatic source said the draft list already numbers over 100 people.
On Monday, Belarus released from detention one of the opposition presidential candidates Vital Rymashevski, who together with 26 others is facing charges of organizing riots that can get him up to 15 years in prison.
The Swedish Foreign Minister has revealed that additional measures on part of the EU against Lukashenko might include cutting all EU projects linked to Belarusian authorities; excluding Belarus from meetings under the EU's Eastern Partnership policy, including an EU summit with six post-Soviet countries in Budapest in May; expanding assistance to Belarusian civil society.