Belarus — U.S. Threatens Sanctions on Officials

  • “We’ve got a group of seven people that we are working with Treasury for the evidentiary package” to impose sanctions, the official told Reuters.
  • On August 29, President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia recognizes the legitimacy of the August 9 presidential election in Belarus.
  • Nicknamed Europe's last dictator, Lukashenko Governs Belarus with an iron fist with zero tolerance to criticism from the opposition quarters.

The United States is considering imposing sanctions on seven Belarusian officials believed to be responsible for electoral fraud and violence against peaceful protesters, a senior US State Department official revealed on September 1. The move by Washington could create friction with Moscow.

Law enforcement officers stand guard during an opposition demonstration to protest against presidential election results, in front of the Independence Palace in Minsk, Belarus August 23.

“We’ve got a group of seven people that we are working with Treasury for the evidentiary package” to impose sanctions, the official told Reuters.

“It is a minimal effort to … not just name and shame but to show that when people both steal elections and commit violence against peaceful protesters exercising fundamental freedoms of assembly and speech that there needs to be some accountability,” the official stressed.

On August 29, President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia recognizes the legitimacy of the August 9 presidential election in Belarus.

On 31 August, the three Baltic republics– Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania– announced sanctions against some 30 Belarusian officials, including the President of the Republic, Alexander Lukashenko.

The sanctions were announced by the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda. The sanctions include a travel ban in the Baltic Republics. Nauseda said that that was just but the first step, and later the scope of sanctions could be broadened.

Mass demonstrations in Belarus began on 9 August following the re-election, for a sixth term, of President Lukashenko, in power since 1994. As per the local electoral commission, the head of state got 80.1% of the votes, whereas the candidate of the united opposition, Svetlana Tichanovskaja, obtained 10.12% of the votes. The other three candidates combined collected just over 4%. The vote was not recognized by the nation’s opposition as well as the EU.

In a bid to halt the demonstrations, the nation’s security forces brutally attacked the demonstrators, a move strongly opposed by several human rights organizations, as well as the west. According to the Interior Ministry, hundreds of people were injured, including more than 150 law enforcement officers, and more than 7,500 people have since been arrested. Three people died as a result.

Huge protests flood Belarus’ capital again, defying crackdown.

As a result of popular and international pressure, the security forces stopped using force to disperse the demonstrations, but the protests continued in the streets and also extended to some television networks and public companies, which went on strike. The Belarusian opposition is contesting the election results and calling for new elections, an option that Alexander Lukashenko has so far ruled out.

Nicknamed Europe’s last dictator, Lukashenko governs Belarus with an iron fist, with zero tolerance to criticism from the opposition quarters.

Prior to the country’s recently conducted elections, for instance, he barred all popular candidates from participating in the elections and even jailed some of them with others opting for a life in exile.

Following the fraudulent elections, protests have been ongoing with the demonstrators vowing to dethrone him. Only time shall tell on whether he would survive the current onslaught on his 26 years rule.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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