The Crisis in Belarus: US Imposes New Sanctions to Counter Repression

The Crisis in Belarus: US Imposes New Sanctions to Counter Repression

The United States has announced new sanctions against several entities and individuals in Belarus on the third anniversary of the 2020 presidential election, which maintained authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s grip on power. The US Treasury Department stated that these sanctions are aimed at entities involved in civil society repression, complicity in Russia’s unjustified war in Ukraine, and the enrichment of Lukashenka.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on eight individuals, including the general-director of Belarusian Steel Works, as well as members of a family that controls significant portions of the tobacco products and transportation sectors in Belarus. Three state-owned entities, including airline Belavia and a Canadair regional jet used by high-ranking officials and Lukashenka’s family members, are also targeted.

These sanctions are intended to disrupt state-owned enterprises and key government officials that the regime relies on for generating substantial revenue to support its undemocratic and repressive policies. The Belarusian businessman Alyaksey Aleksin, a close confidant of Lukashenka and known as one of his “wallets,” has also been sanctioned. Aleksin transferred ownership in several key businesses to his family shortly before the sanctions were imposed.

The Department of Financial Investigations and its top directors are also subject to sanctions for their oppression of independent media and civil society actors. The sanctions freeze all property and interests in property in U.S. jurisdiction owned by the designated persons and entities. Visa restrictions have been imposed on 101 regime officials and their affiliates for undermining or suppressing democratic institutions in Belarus.

The United States reiterates its support for the people of Belarus who are seeking a country based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and a democratically elected government. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners held by the Lukashenka regime.

The situation in Belarus remains a global concern, with ongoing repression of NGOs, activists, and independent media. These new sanctions aim to counter the regime’s actions and support those striving for a more democratic and accountable government in Belarus.