The European Council of the EU has prolonged the restrictive measures against four people from Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2021, the press service of the institution reports.
“These measures include an embargo on arms and on equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against four people designated in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000.
The Council also prolonged the derogation to the restrictive measures to allow the export of biathlon equipment and limited number of specific-use sporting rifles and sporting pistols to Belarus, which remain subject to prior authorisation by national competent authorities on a case by case basis,” the statement reads.
The embargo will officially enter into force after the legal acts will be published in the Official Journal on 18 February 2020.
Recall that sanctions against Belarus were initially introduced in 2004 in response to the disappearance of former Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenko, politician Viktor Gonchar, businessman Anatoly Krasovsky and journalist Dmitry Zavadsky in 1999-2000. Brussels suspected four officials of being involved in the disappearances.
Vladimir Naumov (ex-interior minister), Viktor Sheiman (former head of the Presidential Administration), Yuri Sivakov (former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and Dmitri Pavlichenko (a commander of a special forces brigade in the Ministry of Internal Affairs) were put on the EU visa-ban and asset-freeze blacklist.
Additional restrictive measures and the arms embargo were adopted in 2011. In February 2016, the EU lifted almost all sanctions against Belarus, while maintaining the arms embargo and the sanctions against the four persons. They were prolonged in 2019.