EU slaps economic sanctions on Belarus over rights breaches

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has slapped economic sanctions on Belarus in response to what the EU called the “escalation of serious human rights violations” including the detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich. The dissident journalist was arrested May 23 after Belarusian flight controllers ordered a Ryanair jet traveling from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk. The sanctions agreed Thursday target industries including potash – a common fertilizer ingredient – tobacco industry exports and petroleum products. The EU has gradually ratcheted up sanctions since the authoritarian Lukashenko won a sixth term last August in elections the bloc called fraudulent. Thousands have been arrested protesting his reelection.