The Belarusian government on Friday withdrew the accreditations of all foreign journalists and forced them to leave the country. The authorities are doing this in revenge for the European sanctions introduced on Friday and previously threatened to ban foreign media from the country with sanctions.
The withdrawal of the accreditations makes it more difficult for foreign media to report on events in Belarus. The government has announced that all journalists can apply again, but it is expected that this procedure could take a long time.
In addition, the Belarusian government presented a list of names of EU diplomats who are no longer welcome.
The European sanctions, targeting 40 accomplices of President Alexander Lukashenko, came into effect on Friday. As a result of these sanctions, these persons can no longer travel to the EU and their assets are frozen. The sanctions do not target the president himself.
The United States also came with sanctions against eight officials on Friday, including the Secretary of the Interior. The US states that fraud has taken place in the last elections.
Belarus has also decided to remove personnel from its embassies in Poland and Lithuania, both EU Member States. The Eastern European country has also requested both countries to reduce the number of employees in their embassies in Minsk.
Lithuania and Poland already announced in separate statements on Friday that they do not intend to do this. The countries want to keep an eye on what is happening in Belarus.
Belarusian President Lukashenko had previously threatened retaliation if EU sanctions continued.
At the beginning of this month, several journalists were arrested and sentenced to three days in prison for participating in an illegal demonstration according to the government (photo: ANP).
Belarus has been standing still for weeks due to massive demonstrations after the election results of 9 August. Lukashenko won it with more than 80 percent of the vote, according to the official election results, but almost everyone assumes election fraud. Almost the entire opposition has since been arrested or fled abroad.
Since the election results became known, thousands of people have taken to the streets almost every day to express their anger. The riot police often act harshly. Thousands of people have already been arrested during the demonstrations, including many (foreign) journalists.