Belarus: US, EU sanction dozens of officials

In response to the controversial arrest of an opponent of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime at the end of May, the United States took punitive measures on Monday against dozens of officials, in coordination with the European Union as well as the United Kingdom and Canada.

On May 23, Belarus hijacked an airliner , operating the Athens-Vilnius route, in order to arrest  Roman Protassevich , an opposition activist, and his Russian friend Sofia Sapega, who were on board. The maneuver, denounced by most democracies, has new consequences, almost a month later.

On Monday, June 21, the United States imposed targeted financial sanctions and visa restrictions on dozens of officials and entities in Belarus. An action taken in coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada. Some targets are close advisers to President Alexander Lukashenko, disputed in his country since his re-election in August 2020. At the end of May, Washington announced that it was preparing this joint action .

In a statement, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, indicated that these sanctions came in response to the hijacking of May 23, and more broadly to the “persistent repression in Belarus” and violations of human rights. “These coordinated sanctions demonstrate the firm transatlantic determination to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus,” he added.

Blinken denounces “the flagrant abuses of the Lukashenko regime”

On Twitter, Antony Blinken points out “the flagrant abuses of the Lukashenko regime , including the forced hijacking of a flight to arrest a journalist, the arrest of nearly 500 political prisoners, repression and violence”.

The US Treasury has frozen any holdings in the US of 16 people and five entities, who will also be barred from accessing the US financial system. Natalia Mikalaeuna Eismant, spokesman for Alexander Lukashenko, Natalia Ivanauna Kachanava, president of the upper house of the Belarusian Parliament, and Ivan Tsertsel, head of intelligence in Belarus, are among those targeted.

In addition, the United States prohibited access to its territory to 46 new Belarusian officials. There are now 155 individuals in total to be affected by US visa restrictions.

The European Union has taken sanctions against two Belarusian ministers, those of Defense and Transport. There are now 78 people and eight entities on the EU blacklist. All are banned and will have their assets in the EU seized. For its part, the United Kingdom announces that it has taken similar sanctions against seven close to Lukashenko and against BNK, a company that exports petroleum products.

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