Parliament calls on the EU to punish those involved in forcing a plane to land in Minsk on 23 May and in the detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday with 626 votes in favour, 16 against and 36 abstentions, MEPs strongly condemn the “Ryanair hijacking” as an act of ‘state terrorism’, and call for Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega, as well as all other political prisoners in Belarus, to be immediately and unconditionally released.

The EU sanctions list must be expanded

The resolution urges the Council to sanction the Belarusian individuals and entities involved in the forced landing and the abductions as soon as possible.                                         EU member states must also proceed with utmost urgency with the next package of sanctions against those who took part in or were complicit in electoral fraud last year and the subsequent human rights violations in Belarus, says the text. Prosecutors, judges and law-enforcement employees who play a role in the repression should be on the sanctions list, as should agents working on disinformation, media, propaganda and officials supporting the regime, such as Marat Markov, who interviewed Raman Pratasevich on the state channel ONT on 2 June.                                                                                                           In addition, MEPs call for swift economic and sectoral measures targeting key Belarusian industries, in particular the crude oil and oil-products, potash, steel and wood-processing sectors. Financial support to the regime must be strictly denied, any new credit lines to the country’s banks refused, and investments in infrastructure or economic undertakings must be halted. European financial institutions must be prevented from acquiring bonds or any other financial instrument issued by the Belarusian government and affiliated public institutions.

Belarus should be suspended from international sport bodies and events

The resolution also calls for Belarus to be suspended from international sport bodies and international events, including European and world championships, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. MEPs further urge the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to remove broadcasting rights for the upcoming EURO 2020 football tournament from Belarusian state television TVR and assign them to the independent Belsat TV free of charge.