Lithuania to consider sanctions against Belarus over opposition crackdown

The Lithuanian government will consider blacklisting Belarusian officials for their role in the crackdown on the opposition and the media, Foreign Minister Linas Linekvičius said on Friday.

The minister was commenting on a call by Gediminas Kirkilas, member of the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the parliamentary opposition leader, to bar those responsible for the ongoing repressions in Belarus from entering Lithuania under the so-called Magnitsky law.

Linkevičius described the initiative as sensible.

“We need to identify these people and their responsibility. We’ll look into it carefully, and if there is a basis and enough information, we’ll do it,” the minister told BNS.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement earlier this week that it was “following the presidential election campaign in Belarus with great concern”.

In recent weeks the Belarusian government has arrested opposition activists, journalists, bloggers, and hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in its move to quash political rivals ahead of the August election, where the long-term authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko will seek re-election.

Lithuania’s Magnitsky Act, named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in prison in 2009 after uncovering a tax fraud scheme, allows barring entry to people linked to serious corruption, money laundering, or human rights violations.

The list currently includes tens of Russian citizens and a number of Saudi officials linked to the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


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