EU Ministers are expected to consider new names to add to the list of sanctions on Belarus, and a new push to include disputed leader Alexander Lukashenko himself, who met with 11 jailed opposition activists on Saturday.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled leader of the anti-regime protests, said the prison visit came as a “result of our pressure.” By having that meeting, Lukashenko “acknowledged the existence of political prisoners whom he had previously dismissed as criminals,” she said.
Meanwhile, Belarusian riot police used water cannons and stun grenades to break up this Sunday’s anti-Lukashenko protest.
Today’s main debate is about new sanctions against Russia for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It follows a statement last week by the foreign ministers of Germany and France, calling for sanctions after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent from the Novichok group, developed by Russia.
The aim is to have sanctions agreed by the end of the week. “We are moving very fast,” said one senior EU diplomat. Either foreign ministers themselves, or if there are any reservations EU leaders, would have to look into the issue during the European Council later this week