Following the trial against leading Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, the Council of the European Union decided on December 16, 2011, to reinforce restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime and those involved in repressions against the democratic opposition and civil society. The Council added two more people – who have been involved in the trial of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski – to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and a ban from entering the EU.
Meanwhile, December 19, Belarusians marked the one year anniversary of the presidential elections of 2010, which ended in rare mass protests and a exceptional wave of repressions; a ruthless crackdown including targeted harassment of the opposition, independent journalists, as well as the rest of the Belarusian civil society.
On the eve of the election December 19, 2010, nearly 50,000 people gathered in the city centre of Minsk, as President Alexandr Lukashenka was declared the winner of a fraud-tainted ballot, in which each of his nine rivals was awarded less than 3 percent of the vote. At least 700 peaceful demonstrators were brutally arrested as authorities cracked down on the protest. Two of the oppositional candidates in the presidential election, are still in prison – Andrei Sannikau and Mikola Statkevitj.