EU Extended Belarus Sanctions for One More Year

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The EU Council extended the embargo on arms supplies to Belarus and personal sanctions against four people until the end of February 2021. The European Union has extended sanctions against Belarus. The restrictive measures were extended until February 28, 2021, according to the Council of the EU statement published on Monday, February 17. This is a weapons and equipment supply embargo which can be used for reprisals within the country; and also personal sanctions against four people - freezing their assets in the EU and banning their entry into its territory, the document explains. Sanctions were imposed in connection with the disappearance of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one  journalist in 1999 and 2000. At the same time, restrictions on the supply of biathlon equipment to Belarus were extended. Biathlon rifles and pistols for shooting sports will continue to be supplied only with prior authorization by the competent authorities of the respective countries, as indicated below. The decision to extend the sanctions will be published on February 18 in the EU official gazette. Belarusian Foreign Ministry called for sanctions lifting Meanwhile, Minsk announced its "disappointment" as to the extension of EU sanctions, calling them "baseless past remnants and manifestation of political inertia" of the Brussels' policy towards Belarus and called for all restrictive measures lifting. “It is obvious that in recent years, Belarus-European relations have achieved a lot more than the previous decade of sanctions. We are sure that the EU itself is aware that the ritual extension of restrictive measures against Belarus does not lead to any positive results,” the Foreign Ministry stated. EU sanctions against Belarus EU sanctions on Belarus were initiated in 2004 responding to disappearance of critics of power in Minsk. In 2011, additional restrictive measures were taken in relation to persons involved in the violation of international election standards and human rights; to the suppression of civil society and democratic opposition. The same year the arms embargo was imposed. In February 2016, the European Union lifted sanctions against 170 Belarusian officials, including the country's president Alexander Lukashenko and three Belarusian companies. According to unofficial information the weakening of sanctions could be associated with Lukashenko’s active support for EU efforts to overcome the Ukrainian crisis and negotiations in Minsk arranging. At the same time, former interior ministers Vladimir Naumov and Yuri Sivakov, former secretary of the Security Council Viktor Sheiman and former head of the special rapid reaction squad Dmitry Pavlichenko remain under sanctions.