August marks the third anniversary of a fraudulent election in Belarus that saw the continuation of the illegitimate presidency of long-time dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The voting was rife with electoral irregularities. The election itself was surrounded by human rights abuses, and the massive protests that followed the fraudulent vote were brutally suppressed by security forces. Thousands of protesters were detained, several were killed in the violence, and there was credible evidence of torture being used against detainees. To this day, the Lukashenka regime holds around 1,500 political prisoners, many of whom ran against Lukashenka in the election or participated in the protests.
On August 9th, the U.S. Department of State imposed visa restrictions on 101 regime officials and their affiliates for undermining or harming democratic institutions in Belarus. At the same time, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, sanctioned eight individuals and five entities for enabling Lukashenka’s domestic repression and for facilitating Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“The Department of the Treasury is designating the ‘Department of Financial Investigations of the State Control Committee of Belarus’ and four members of its board of directors; three family members of U.S.-designated Aliaksey Ivanavich Aleksin; three entities owned or controlled by the Government of Belarus; Belavia Belarusian Airlines, Minsk Civil Aviation Plant 407, Byelorussian Steel Works Management Company; and one entity, Bel-Kap-Steel LLC, for being owned or controlled by the Byelorussian Steel Works Management Company,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement. All are being sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order 14038, “Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus.”
The United States is taking this action alongside other recent actions of our partners and allies.
“We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all 1,500 political prisoners held by the Lukashenka regime, including Ales Bialiatski, Viktar Babaryka, Maria Kalesnikava, Ihar Losik and Siarhei Tsikhanouski,”said Secretary Blinken.
“Since 2020, the Lukashenka regime has repressed Belarusian citizens, arrested peaceful protesters and community leaders, cracked down on opposition groups and civil society organizations, and subjected those detained to sham trials, all to maintain Lukashenka’s illegitimately acquired authority. The United States will continue to support the people of Belarus in their pursuit of a democratic future in free Belarus where human rights are respected.”