European Union foreign ministers are expected to impose sanctions against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime during a meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
Reports say the EU ministers are likely to reinstate a visa ban on Lukashenka and other Belarusian officials in response to the regime's crackdown on protesters following Lukashenka's disputed reelection December 19.
The crackdown included imprisoning hundreds of opposition activists, including presidential candidates.
Ahead of the EU meeting, Belarusian authorities on January 29 released from jail seven detainees, including former presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu and prominent journalist Irina Khalip, the wife of candidate Andrei Sannikov, who remains in jail. But those who were released remain under house arrest.
Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told RFE/RL that the number of top Belarusian officials set to receive a travel ban will mark "a considerable increase" over the number of Belarusian officials hit with an earlier visa ban.
The EU imposed visa bans on Lukashenka and some 40 other officials after an election in 2006, but lifted the sanctions two years later in a bid to encourage reforms.
The United States has also said it is considering renewed sanctions in response to the Belarusian regime's crackdown during the December 19 election.
The Belarusian opposition has accused authorities of rigging the election, and international monitors have said the vote was flawed.
compiled from agency reports