Belarus hits back at EU travel ban

Belarus has responded to a travel ban imposed on the country's leaders by the European Union with a vow to reciprocate with similar restrictions.

    The EU accuses President Lukashenko of rigging polls

    "The republic of Belarus is put in a position where it is necessary to take adequate measures in reply to the EU and USA. In accordance with international practice they [the measures] will affect the identical category of people," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

    The statement came after the European Union decided to ban Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian president, and 30 key ministers and officials in response to Lukashenko's landslide re-election last month, which Western monitors said was rigged.
      
    The foreign ministry described European and US pressure on Belarus as "uncivilised". "Such actions are short-sighted and without perspective," it said.

    "Today's decision showed the inability of Washington and Brussels to deal respectfully with the clear will of an independent people."

    Disputed vote
      
    Lukashenko, 51, who has been in power since 1994, won his third term with 83% of the vote, according to official results. His nearest rival, Alexander Milinkevich, was credited with 6.1%.

    "Today's decision showed the inability of Washington and Brussels to deal respectfully with the clear will of an independent people"

    Belarus foreign ministry statement

    But the polls were condemned as fraudulent by election monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
      
    The 25-nation EU had already imposed a travel ban on six Belarus officials, not including Lukashenko himself.
      
    The list published on Monday included Lukashenko, four senior aides, the ministers of education, information and justice, five key MPs and a number of judges, prosecutors and electoral commission officials.
      
    A handful of Belarussian officials are already banned from the United States and Washington has indicated that it will also expand the list in the wake of the election.

    SOURCE: AFP


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