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EU Extends Belarus Sanctions

FILE: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, right, with military top officials at Obuz-Lesnovsky , Belarus, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin is cenere, and the State Secretary of the Security Council Alexander Volfovich is second left.

The EU said Monday that it had extended by one year sanctions on Belarus over Minsk's continued repression of the opposition and its support for Russia's war on Ukraine.

The sanctions have been extended until February 28, 2024, the European Council, which represents 27 EU member states, said in a statement.

The bloc has hit Belarus with multiple waves of sanctions since strongman Alexander Lukashenko launched a brutal campaign of repression against demonstrators protesting a disputed election in 2020.

Lukashenko, who has been in power for nearly three decades, is a key ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Lukashenko and 194 other figures close to his government have been banned from entering the EU and their assets have been frozen.

The sanctions also target 34 entities and all European funding to them is banned.

Belarus is also subject to targeted economic sanctions, including restrictions in the financial sector, trade, technology and telecommunications, energy and transport.

As Brussels extended its sanctions, Belarus prosecutors asked the courts to jail opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and a close aide, Pavel Latushko, to 19 years behind bars as they are tried in absentia.

Both Tikhanovskaya, who was forced to flee to Lithuania in the EU, and the aide, a former Belarusian culture minister, now live outside Belarus.