The European Commission president has called for sanctions over the brutal post-election crackdown in Belarus as EU foreign ministers prepared for emergency talks on the crisis.
Ursula von der Leyen urged the countermeasures on Friday to show the bloc’s support for the Belarus people’s rights “to fundamental freedoms and democracy” following Sunday’s disputed vote in which strongman president Alexander Lukashenko extended his 26-year rule over the former Soviet state.
The EU, which lifted most of its sanctions in Belarus in 2016, this week threatened new action against people involved in rigging the election or repressing dissent. “We need additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights in #Belarus,” Ms von der Leyen wrote on Twitter. “I am confident today’s EU foreign ministers’ discussion will demonstrate our strong support for the rights of the people in Belarus to fundamental freedoms & democracy.”
Her intervention follows an outcry over the brutal crackdown on protesters following the vote. Many of those detained in Belarus after more than 6,000 arrests since the election were being released on Friday, as reports of beatings and torture prompted strikes at major state-owned enterprises and spurred further protests around the country.
Yuri Karaev, Belarus’s