UK, Canada Impose Sanctions on Belarus President Lukashenko

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko steps down from his plane after arriving in Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 14, 2020. (Andrei Stasevich /BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

LONDON (AFP) — Britain and Canada on Tuesday slapped sanctions on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and senior figures in the regime for a string of alleged human rights violations.

Lukashenko and seven other individuals will be subject to an immediate travel ban and asset freeze, in response to the disputed recent elections and crackdown on protesters.

“Today the UK and Canada have sent a clear message by imposing sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko’s violent and fraudulent regime,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. 

“We don’t accept the results of this rigged election. We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights.”

Raab, who is currently on a visit to South Korea, has previously threatened sanctions against the Belarussian strongman as a result of the August 9 vote.

He has denounced what he said was the “grisly repression” of unprecedented protests over the result, and demanded an independent international investigation.

The 27-member European Union has also threatened Lukashenko’s regime with sanctions, but efforts to impose them have been vetoed by Cyprus. 

Lukashenko claimed victory with 80 percent of the vote, despite wide opposition to his 26-year rule, including from western nations and the European Union.

Those on the sanctions list are the president’s son and national security adviser, Viktor, his chief of staff and senior figures in the minister of internal affairs and police.

Britain announced a new sanctions regime in July this year and imposed restrictions on 49 individuals and organizations involved in serious alleged human rights abuses.

They included 25 Russian nationals said to be linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, and 20 Saudis involved in the 2018 murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Two high-ranking Myanmar generals were also red-flagged over the treatment of the Rohingya people, and two North Korean groups accused of forced labor, torture and murder. 

The restrictions against Lukashenko are the first against a country’s leader under the new sanctions regime, and stops him from travel to the UK and Canada, or channeling money through banks.

They come as French President Emmanuel Macron promised to help with mediation in the political crisis, earning a strong rebuke from Russia’s Vladimir Putin at “external pressure”.

© Agence France-Presse

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