Lithuania, Estonia push for EU sanctions on Lukashenko – diplomats

BRUSSELS, Sept 2- Lithuania and Estonia have asked fellow EU nations to blacklist Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko when the bloc imposes sanctions on the former Soviet republic over a disputed election and a crackdown on protests, diplomatic sources said. The EU is still negotiating the exact list of people to be barred from travelling and have assets…

BRUSSELS, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Lithuania and Estonia have

asked fellow EU nations to blacklist Belarusian leader Alexander

Lukashenko when the bloc imposes sanctions on the former Soviet

republic over a disputed election and a crackdown on protests,

diplomatic sources said.

The European Union decided to sanction Belarusian officialsit deems responsible for the presidential election, whichofficially gave Lukashenko about 80% of the vote but whichopposition activists say was rigged.

Mass street protests erupted after the Aug. 9 vote, posingthe biggest threat yet to Lukashenko. The EU has demanded therelease of thousands of protesters and dialogue between thegovernment and the opposition.

The EU is still negotiating the exact list of people to bebarred from travelling and have assets they hold in the blocfrozen, aiming to approve a first set of 10 to 20 names whenforeign ministers meet on Sept. 21, the sources said.

Any sanctions need unanimity from all members of the EU,which usually does not target top political figures with a viewto keeping communications channels open.

The EU is also coordinating its response to the situation inBelarus with the United States and Britain. A U.S. official saidthe EU was considering a blacklist of 10-15 names.

Donald Tusk, head of the largest political family in the EU,the centre-right European People’s Party, told Polish websiteOnet that the bloc would support the Belarusian opposition.

“I am de facto certain that we (the EU) will organise asmuch resources as will be needed to support the oppositionmovement in Belarus,” said Tusk, a former prime minister ofPoland, traditionally a Russia hawk in the EU, who also used tochair EU summits.(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Francesco Guarascio;Editing by Giles Elgood)

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