The United States announces new sanctions against Belarusian officials, companies and entities. In doing so, they increase the pressure on the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.
The sanctions are a result of the “continuous offensive against the democratic aspirations and rights of the Belarusian people”, as well as the “violations of international rules” and the “corruption” of the regime.
US President Joe Biden will sign a decree a year after the election of Belarusian President Lukashenko, whom he considers “fraudulent”. That decree tightens the US sanctions regime, in place since 2006, by extending it to several key sectors of the Belarusian economy. The US announcement follows the Belarus president’s annual press conference, who again claimed his victory resulted from a “completely transparent” electoral process.
The US Treasury Department will, among other things, impose sanctions on the Belarusian National Olympic Committee. For example, sprinter Kristsina Tsimanoeskaja recently claimed that she was the victim of attempted forced repatriation from the Tokyo Olympics due to critical statements made to her coaches. Last year she had also criticized the violence against demonstrators in Belarus. The 24-year-old athlete, who fears a prison sentence, is now hiding in Poland, the neighbouring country of Belarus.
The scandal, the US says, “illustrates the committee’s inability to protect athletes from political repression.” The United States further accuses the committee of “facilitating money laundering”.
Washington will also impose sanctions on state-owned Balruskali OAO, one of the largest producers of potassium-based fertilizers, “for illegal enrichment for the regime.” Belarus is one of the largest potassium producers in the world.
Also, “leading economic leaders who support the regime” will be targeted, as well as 15 companies associated with those individuals, including the private bank Absolutbank. Finally, “entities” operating in the tobacco, construction, energy and transport sectors are also penalized.