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Belarus: Tsikhanouskaya accepts Sakharov Prize in Brussels

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has been holding talks in Brussels with senior EU officials. Her speech to MEPs comes as the bloc slapped new sanctions of the country's leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

Watch video 02:52

Standing up to the Belarus regime

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Wednesday vowed the protest movement against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko would prevail despite a brutal crackdown by authorities, as she received the EU's top rights prize.

Belarus' opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is congratulated by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after receiving the Sakharov Prize

Belarus' opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is congratulated by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after receiving the Sakharov Prize

"We are bound to win and we will win," the exiled former presidential candidate said in Brussels as she received the Sakharov Prize on behalf of the opposition movement.

The prize, named after a Soviet dissident, is awarded by the European Parliament every year.

It came on the day that EU ambassadors agreed Wednesday further economic sanctions on Belarus over its brutal crackdown on opposition protesters, targeting 29 individuals and seven firms or organisations.

The measures, to be formalized with the publication of the list on Thursday, will be the third round of sanctions the European blochas imposed on the regime of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Minsk, Belaru

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Minsk, Belaru

Lukashenko, his son, and more than 50 Belarus officials are already under EU sanctions.

Sources in the European Council and an EU diplomat told AFP that a meeting of ambassadors from the EU's 27 member states agreed on the latest list of individuals and entities to be sanctioned.

The names will be be published in the EU's official administrative gazette on Thursday. The measures consist of visa bans and the freezing of assets in the EU.

The EU has escalated its sanctions as Lukashenko has maintained his repression of opposition activists by deploying security forces to arrest, harass and intimidate them as they continued to protest an August presidential election widely seen as fraudulent.

Protests in Minsk, Belarus against the government

Protests in Minsk, Belarus against the government

Belarus has announced it is to close its land border on Sunday, ostensibly to curb the spread of the coronavirus but it triggered alarm in the opposition which sees it as a further clampdown on dissent.

The decree prevents Belarus nationals and foreigners who hold temporary or permanent residency from leaving the country.

Several Belarusian opposition figures have fled across the border into the EU, to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, in the wake of the crackdown on protests.

jf/rc (AFP)