EP urges for new sanctions and to move Ice Hockey World Cup from Minsk

In the resolution adopted on March 29, the European Parliament urges the National Ice Hockey Federations of the EU Member States and all other democratic countries to urge the IIHF, including at its next Congress in May in Helsinki, Finland, to re-discuss its earlier decision envisaging the possibility of relocating the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship from Belarus to another host country until all political prisoners are released. 

The resolution demands the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners, including Ales Bialiatski, Chair of the Human Rights Centre 'Viasna' and Vice-President of the FIDH, two ex-presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Andrei Sannikau, heads of the presidential campaigns of democratic opposition candidates Pavel Seviarynets and Dzmitry Bandarenka, and Syarhey Kavalenka. It is stated in the document that the decision to withdraw all the ambassadors of the EU Member States from Belarus proves that the Belarusian authorities’ attempts to divide the European Union over decisions on sanctions have failed.

The resolution calls on the Council to take stock of the latest developments in EU-Belarus diplomatic relations and of the further deterioration in the situation regarding human rights and basic freedoms in the country and, on this basis, to adopt a decision concerning further restrictive measures, including targeted economic sanctions. A separate claim of the Resolution condemns the offensive rhetoric used by Aliaksandr Lukashenka vis-à-vis German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.