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Belarus responds to latest EU sanctions with its own bans

Belarus has retaliated against the international community's latest round of sanctions by imposing its own entry bans and import restrictions, announced by the Foreign Ministry in Minsk on Monday.

Belarus has retaliated against the international community’s latest round of sanctions by imposing its own entry bans and import restrictions, announced by the Foreign Ministry in Minsk on Monday.

Belarus will ban “the import of a number of goods originating from the states applying the illegitimate anti-Belarusian sanctions,” the ministry said.

It is also to impose restrictions on EU and British airlines, in a tit-for-tat response to the sanctioning of Belarusian state carrier Belavia for its role in the migrant stand-off at the European Union’s eastern flank.

The names of the companies and individuals affected by the sanctions were not specified, neither were the countries to be targeted by the import ban on unspecified goods.

The announcement did, however, underscore the importance of strengthening economic relations with Russia.

Last week the EU, Britain, the United States and Canada imposed fresh sanctions on Belarus, noting its continued attempt to stoke a crisis at the EU border by deliberately transporting refugees from war-torn countries to Minsk and then enabling them to travel onwards towards Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Many migrants have been stuck waiting in the border region for weeks, hoping to continue their journey to Europe.

According to the national border guard, Poland has to date registered around 40,000 attempted illegal border crossings, 8,900 of them in November alone.

On Monday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reported that it had sent dozens of “requests for interim measures” concerning the situation at the borders with Belarus.

This included asking Poland to provide food and water or medical care to those in need, or to allow people access to legal counsel, a statement said. The country was also asked not to send people back over the border until further notice.

The court did not say whether these requests were heeded.

Between August 20 and December 3, the ECHR processed 47 requests for interim measures brought by a total of 198 applicants. Forty-four were lodged against Poland, one against Lithuania and two against Latvia.

As members of the Council of Europe, all three countries are contractually obliged to comply with orders of the court.

According to the ECHR statement, such interim measures are imposed only in exceptional cases when applicants would otherwise face a real risk of suffering irreversible harm.

However, it also stressed that the requests do not require countries to let migrants onto their territories, and underlined the rights of nation states “to control the entry, residence and expulsion of
aliens.”

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