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EU to impose travel ban against Belarus officials over elections

[JURIST] European Union [official website] diplomats on Thursday evening are expected to approve a travel ban on 31 high-level Belarus governmental officials, including the president, in reaction to the controversial March 19th presidential election [JURIST report] and the subsequent crackdown on protesters [JURIST report]. Over 600 protesters now face criminal charges [JURIST report]. The visa ban will come into effect when EU foreign ministers approve it next Monday, and while it will not realistically prevent its targets from traveling through the EU, the EU intends it to communicate a condemnation of the elections and the arrests of protesters.

An independent report [text] released last month by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called the election process severely flawed [JURIST report], citing instances of harassment and unnecessary detention of political activists. The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution [press release] calling re-elected Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile] "the last dictator in Europe." The EU will consider taking further action against Belarus [JURIST news archive] at an upcoming foreign minister's meeting, which may include foreign asset freezes on the 31 officials subject to the travel ban as well as trade restrictions on selected exports coming from Belarus. EUObserver.com has more.

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