The State Department has imposed visa restrictions on an additional 43 individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy, making them generally ineligible for entry into the United States. These individuals include high-ranking justice sector officials, law enforcement personnel who detained and abused peaceful demonstrators, judges and prosecutors involved in sentencing peaceful protesters and journalists to prison, and academic administrators who threatened students for participating in peaceful protests.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States “remains alarmed by the [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka regime’s continuing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, pro-democracy activists, and journalists.” Other concerning actions include the recent raids on the human rights organization Vyasna, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and independent trade union workers. Moreover, on February 18, a Belarusian judge found journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova guilty of "organizing public events aimed at disrupting civil order." In their final courtroom statement, Andreyeva and Chultsova rejected the charges against them, calling them politically motivated.
In two previous rounds of designations, the U.S. placed visa restrictions on 66 individuals who were determined to be responsible for undermining democracy in Belarus. Those individuals included high-ranking Lukashenka regime officials, as well as Russian and Belarusian nationals complicit in hindering the work of independent media and otherwise undermining the integrity of media freedom in Belarus. In total, 109 individuals have been designated for visa restrictions.
Upwards of tens of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets immediately after the August 9 fraudulent presidential election, and peaceful protesters have gathered weekly since then. Demonstrators are demanding that Lukashenka step down and new elections be held, but so far, he has been defiant. Security officials have arrested tens of thousands and forcefully expelled, detained, and threatened top opposition figures. Several protesters have been killed in the violence, and according to rights organizations there is credible evidence of torture being used against detainees.
The United States continues to support international efforts to independently investigate electoral irregularities in Belarus, the human rights abuses surrounding the election, and the crackdown that has followed, declared Secretary Blinken. “We stand with the brave people of Belarus and support their right to free and fair elections.”