Lukashenko faces new EU entry ban

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko may be put back on the EU entry ban list over post-election beatings and arrests last month, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has said.

"Those who took part in the actions which took place and those who collaborated with them will inevitably come back on the list," Bildt told by telephone.

Lukashenko and 40 other officials were banned from entering the EU after a similar post-election crackdown in 2006.

An EU diplomatic source has said the new list already includes more than 100 people responsible for the brutal crackdown after the disputed election on December 19.

Some EU countries have called for an emergency EU ministerial meeting next week to put the new list into play. But Germany and Sweden have said the bloc should wait until a scheduled EU meeting on January 31.

Opposition presidential candidate Vitaly Rymashevsky was released from custody on January 1. Rymashevsky and 26 others including 5 presidential candidates who are still being held face up to 15 years in prison for organizing "mass disturbances."

Thousands of people took to the streets after election results gave Lukashenko - often referred to as "Europe's last dictator" - 79.7 percent of the vote.

Bildt also said that Belarus may see none of the EU's pre-election offer of 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in economic aid over the next three years.

"Mass economic aid is clearly off the table for at least the time being," he said.

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh has responded by saying that the country's "EU partners have a twisted view of the political and social situation in Belarus."

"It prompts them to take decisions which will harm the processes of [bilateral] cooperation," Savinykh told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

BRUSSELS, January 4 (RIA Novosti)


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