2020.08.31 18:08

Lithuania pushes for EU fund to help victims in Belarus

BNS2020.08.31 18:08

Lithuania’s government is hoping to establish national and EU initiatives to help victims of the Belarusian regime, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Monday.

The initiatives will “include assistance to victims, and, possibly, assistance in the field of education, such as scholarships for students and researchers, and support for the civil society, and so on," Linkevičius told BNS.

Linkevičius said EU ministers had already approved his initiative to establish a fund to help the victims of the Lukashenko regime, which will receive 2.4 million euros from the European Commission.

On Monday, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia announced their national sanctions in a coordinated move. However, the list of officials who were placed under sanctions differs, according to Linkevičius.

"In the future, we'll probably supplement each other's lists,” he said.

Lithuania blacklisted 30 Belarusian officials, including Alexander Lukashenko and one of his sons, as well as several ministers, and high-ranking KGB, police and Central Electoral Commission officers.

"The numbers can be much higher; they need to be adjusted and coordinated. Our proposal [that includes 118 names] to the Interior Ministry remains on the table," he added.

Read more: Lithuania sanctions 30 Belarusian officials including Lukashenko

From now on, the blacklisted Belarusian officials are banned from entering Lithuania.

"I think that this isn't just a symbolic step, because Lithuania is a popular direction for Belarusian citizens. We can see it visually, too," Linkevičius said.

The process of approving EU-wide sanctions against officials of the Belarusian regime is ongoing, the minister said.

"European sanctions are much more powerful in terms of the available legal instruments," he said. "They include barring entry to the entire Schengen area and freezing accounts."

Restrictive measures against Belarus were first taken in 2004 over the disappearance of four people. In 2011, the EU imposed additional sanctions against individuals involved in repressions.

The new sanctions are aimed at punishing the Lukashenko regime for vote-rigging in the August 9 presidential election and using violence against peaceful protesters.

Some 7,000 people were detained during the first several days of protests, and some had been subjected to brutal beatings in police custody.

Read more: Surviving captivity in Minsk. Belarusian detainee recalls abuse and endless beatings

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