News for 17 Nov 2009

Unauthorized demonstration in Minsk`s central square passes off without incident

17.11.2009 Unauthorized demonstration in Minsk`s central square passes off without incident

An unauthorized demonstration staged in Minsk`s downtown Kastrychnitskaya Square on Monday evening to demand the release of political prisoners and commemorate the unsolved disappearances of four government opponents passed off without incident.

The demonstration came one day before the European Union`s foreign ministers were to decide whether to reimpose sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other Belarusian officials.

At 6 p.m., some 40 opposition activists formed a line in the square along Independence Avenue, displaying images of opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasowski and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, who mysteriously disappeared in 1999 and 2000. They also displayed images of Artsyom Dubski, Mikalay Awtukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka, who are believed to be political prisoners.

EU to extend freeze on sanctions against Belarusian officials

17.11.2009 EU to extend freeze on sanctions against Belarusian officials

The European Union is expected to prolong the freeze on its sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other Belarusian officials next week but not lift the threat entirely due to a lack of progress on political reform, reported Reuters with reference to a draft statement seen on Thursday, BelaPAN said.

In October 2008, the European Union suspended for six months its travel ban against Alyaksandr Lukashenka and 35 other Belarusian officials. The suspension of the sanctions was extended for another nine months this past March to encourage the Belarusian government to carry out "further concrete measures towards democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The draft statement due to be approved by the EU foreign ministers during their meeting in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday said that the suspension would be extended until October 2010 to encourage further changes, according to the report.

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