Visa sanctions have been expanded. Are economic sanctions ahead?

(Updated) A decision to expand the list of Belarusian officials who are banned from entry into EU countries has been taken at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the EU in Luxembourg.

Officially, the decision has not yet been announced; the agency “France-Presse” has reported about it, citing its own sources.

According to news agencies, the heads of EU diplomatic missions have agreed the decision to impose bans on entry to the EU for officials of Belarus and Iran; their names have not yet been given. In addition, the assets of those people in the EU will be frozen.

According to BBC Radio, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uri Rosenthal, said: “Lukashenko should understand that he must release all political prisoners. If he does not learn lessons from soft measures, then harsh ones will follow, including the extension and tightening of sanctions.”

Let us remind you that on 7 October, the Polish news agency PAP reported that the EU plans to extend sanctions against another 16 Belarusian officials, and that this decision could be taken on 10 October in Luxembourg.

The EU Council introduced sanctions against the Belarusian regime in January 2011, in response to a tough crackdown after the presidential elections on 19 December 2010 in Minsk. Now the list of officials who are prohibited from entering the EU consists of 192 names.

On 21 September, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry initiated the inclusion of 18 Belarusian officials to the list of people banned from entry to Lithuania, and it called on other EU countries to incorporate them into their national lists of those banned from entry.