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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Studies Visa Ban on Belarus Officials

BRUSSELS -- The EU's Austrian presidency said Thursday that the bloc might put visa bans on all those deemed responsible for any alleged rigging of Sunday's presidential election that saw Alexander Lukashenko retain power.

In 2004, the EU issued visa bans against six Belarussian officials whom it accused of involvement in rigging past elections.

EU officials said this week that visa bans could target those deemed to have had a direct hand in any election-rigging this time, adding that it was unclear if Lukashenko would be included.

Addressing a European Parliament debate, the Austrian secretary of state for foreign affairs, Hans Winkler, noted that one speaker had urged visa bans on all those deemed responsible for election-rigging, and added: "That's exactly what it's about."

Austria holds the EU's rotating presidency, and the bloc is expected to impose measures on Belarus in April.

Poland has led calls for tough action, including economic sanctions, but other EU members are wary of action that they say would hurt the Belarussian people.