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Belarus to punch back at EU sanctions - Foreign Ministry

RIA Novosti

20:53 31/01/2011 MINSK, January 31 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus will take measures in response to the EU sanctions against top Belarusian officials, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said on Monday.

The 27 EU foreign ministers said at their monthly meeting earlier on Monday that the European Union will impose an asset freeze and visa ban on 158 top Belarus officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, following December's flawed elections and a brutal clampdown on opposition leaders and protesters.

"The EU Council's decision forces Belarus to take proportional and adequate measures aiming to strengthen the Belarusian sovereignty, maintain stability and consolidate Belarusian society," Savinykh said.

Savinykh accused EU officials of deliberate concealment of aggression and violence by Belarusian protesters, who attempted to seize the headquarters of the country's parliament and government.

More than 600 people were arrested - many after being beaten - when they took to the streets to protest the reelection of authoritarian Lukashenko in December that the opposition called rigged. Most were held for up to 15 days and were then released, but some still remain behind bars.

The spokesman expressed deep regret over the EU decision and said that the logics of its conclusions meant "direct intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state" and undermined the prospect of united Europe without barriers.



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