Clamping Down on Belarus

The EU is showing its strength as it adds more harsh measures to its list against Belarus.  They will be imposing a travel ban and freezing assets on another 15 or so officials from Belarus.  The new names will be added to an existing list that already has about 175 names on it from Belarus.  Most of these additional names are judges and prosecutors who were involved in putting opposition activists in prison.

Belarus Catching Up to Zimbabwe

This new addition of names will put Belarus on par with Zimbabwe, which now has 197 people The EU ministers are also going to be holding preliminary talks about other targeted economic sanctions to be imposed against state-owned Belarusian companies, but these measures could take quite a long time to come to fruition.

Russia, on Thursday, offered to loan Belarus $3 billion to help them with any economic sanctions that the EU may be getting ready to impose.  In other news in the region, the European Parliament has proposed the idea to make the International Ice-Hockey Federation in Switzerland pull the 2014 world cup finals that will take place in Minsk.

Hockey Ban?

Foreign ministry spokesman Georg Farago said that “A possible stop of the hockey championship is being examined.”  This idea is one that could be a brilliant move against President Alexander Lukashenko.  As a hockey lover, he often uses sports as propaganda.

As an EU diplomat who is stationed in Minsk said, “Sports, politics and business are closely connected.  If the hockey team loses an international game the players are punished – their money is taken away – because it’s bad for the image of the country.”

A number of EU member states, however, are against the idea being floated.  As a Latvian diplomat said, “We shouldn’t mix sports and politics…such a decision would punish ordinary people in Belarus more than the elite.” A Finish diplomat added, “ We think such things should be left up to the sports authorities not the governments.”

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