The European Union is to extend sanctions on Belarus over President Lukashenko’s human rights record, prompting an immediate dismissive response from Minsk.
Another 12 people and 29 companies have been added to a blacklist of around 200 who are already banned from travelling or accessing assets in the EU.
“We believe the situation in Belarus is getting worse and the authorities are tightening their grip on civil society. So today we strengthened the restrictive measures to increase the pressure on the authorities,” said the EU’s Foreign Affairs Representative, Catherine Ashton.
The EU wants Belarus to release its political prisoners.
Several opposition figures were detained following Lukashenko’s controversial re-election for a fourth term.
Minsk says it has no intention of allowing back EU ambassadors who had been withdrawn amid human rights protests.