One year after controversial re-election, Lukashenko denies targeting Belarus activists

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Announcing the new British sanctions, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The Lukashenko regime continues to crush democracy and violate human rights in Belarus.”

“These sanctions demonstrate that the UK will not accept Lukashenko’s actions since the fraudulent election,” he added. The package includes preventing Belarusian air carriers from flying over or landing in Britain, and a ban on “technical assistance” to Lukashenko’s private jet fleet. The financial sanctions cover a ban on purchases of transferable securities and money market instruments issued by the Belarusian state and state-owned banks, plus loans.

Canada imposed new sanctions to protest against what it called the “gross and systematic violations of human rights” under Lukashenko. Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement that Ottawa would target transferable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, insurance and reinsurance, petroleum products and potassium chloride products.

A White House official told AFP that US President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Monday targeting Lukashenko over an ongoing “assault against the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Belarusian people, transnational repression … and corruption”.

Britain in June joined the United States, Canada and the European Union in slapping sanctions on Belarus after the detention of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.

Opposition crackdown

Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet state since 1994 but has so far shrugged off Western pressure with the support of key ally Russia.

At the now-completed Tokyo Olympics, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya sought protection to avoid being forced onto a plane home, saying she feared for her life if she returned to Belarus after she criticised her coaches.

Tsimanouskaya was among the many Belarusian sports figures who in August 2020 publicly criticised violence against protesters at demonstrations that gripped the ex-Soviet country after the presidential vote.

In May, Lukashenko’s government intercepted a Ryanair plane en route to Vilnius with Protasevich and his girlfriend aboard and forced it to land in Minsk, where both were arrested.

“Since then, the regime has only further expanded its repression, including by threatening the safety of an Olympic athlete outside its borders,” the US official said.

“With today’s actions, President Biden is abiding by his pledge to hold the Belarusian regime accountable for its abuses.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)

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