The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on the President of Belarus, Alexander LukashenkoHis son and six other senior government officials have been sentenced to responsibility for rigging the presidential election in August and the suppression of subsequent street protests.
Minister of Foreign Affairs , Dominic RapThe sanctions were announced on Tuesday, in coordination with a similar move from Canada. He said, “We will hold accountable those responsible for the bullying that has been spread against the Belarusian people and we will defend our values in democracy and human rights.”
The sanctions include an asset freeze and a travel ban imposed on Lukashenko himself. This is the first time that Britain’s new sanctions regime, in the wake of Brexit, has imposed sanctions on an incumbent president. Other targets include Lukashenko’s son, Victor, and Igor Sergeenko, head of the presidential administration.
The Foreign Ministry said: “The Alexander Lukashenko regime is responsible for a series of human rights violations against opposition figures, media outlets and people.” Belarus In the aftermath of the rigged elections. Despite numerous calls from the international community, it has refused to enter into dialogue with the opposition, choosing instead to redouble its violent repression.
The statement added: “The sanctions were imposed in response to the torture and ill-treatment of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators in custody following the fraudulent presidential elections. The Belarusian authorities took no action to hold those responsible accountable. Many opposition figures have been arrested or forcibly deported and prevented from returning, in a clear display of Lukashenko’s contempt for dialogue with the opposition and basic human rights.
The move came after pressure from Lithuania and Poland, the two European Union countries most supportive of the protests, but it was not clear whether the United States was taking the same steps.
More than 12,000 people have been arrested since Lukashenko’s announcement Landslide winner in the August 9 elections The opposition has denounced fraud. Government officials prevented British embassy observers from watching the vote.
The British-Canadian decision was announced shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron met opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during his visit to Lithuania, in a move that brings it closer to official recognition. Europe As the legitimate leader of Belarus.
Tikanovskaya, who was forced into exile in Lithuania under pressure from Lukashenko, said after his meeting with Macron that he promised to help negotiate the release of prisoners in Belarus.
The Macron meeting was an expression of solidarity after the European Union was collectively unable to reach agreement on sanctions against Belarus afterwards. Cyprus She said she would veto the move Even the European Union also agreed to impose sanctions on Turkey as part of a separate dispute over drilling rights in gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed his deep personal frustration at the European Union’s inability to quickly demonstrate solidarity with the Belarusian opposition. It would not be lost on him that the UK and Canada were able to act. There are also doubts about whether Germany wants to impose sanctions on the president on the grounds that it may close the discussion door.
The meeting between Macron and Tikanovskaya comes two days after tens of thousands of people met Take to the streets of Belarus In the latest series of protests demanding the resignation of Lukashenko.
The demonstrations – often led by women – are the largest in the history of the independent Soviet state.
Macron defended an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but his initiative was weakened by Putin’s support for Lukashenko.
Tikanovskaya said that Macron “said that time is very important because so many people are suffering from the system, many people find themselves in prison, and he will do his best to help release all political prisoners.”