Belarus crisis: Vilnius looks at ban on Lukashenko entering Lithuania
Lithuania is considering banning Belarus’ long-time president Alexander Lukashenko from entering its country.
He’s on a list of Belarus officials that Vilnius is looking at punishing for alleged vote-rigging and violence against protesters.
The list, drawn up by Lithuania’s foreign ministry, will now be reviewed by interior minister Rita Tamasuniene, who has the final say on such matters.
Thirty of the 118-strong list are accused of voter fraud. Those sanctioned will be banned from entering Lithuania.
Lukashenko, dubbed Europe’s last dictator, was announced as the winner of Belarus’ president elections earlier this month.
But critics say the vote was rigged in his favour.
Opposition forces, activists, the European Union and international observers have all raised concerns about the legitimacy of the vote.
Lithuania has been a vocal critic of the Belarusian government since violence erupted after the vote and is currently hosting self-exiled opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers plan to discuss sanctions on Belarus during an informal two-day meeting in Berlin starting on Thursday.
A decision is expected in September at the earliest. If sanctioned, the Belarusian officials would be barred from entering the bloc and will have their assets frozen.
Protests are continuing on an almost daily basis in Belarus.
Around 200,000 took to the streets of capital Minsk on August 25, the country’s independence day, to demand the resignation of Lukashenko.
The 65-year-old leader has refused to stand down, branded his opponents “Western puppets” and vowed to defend the integrity of the country against foreign powers.