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Canada and Britain sanction top Belarusian leaders

September 29, 2020

The sanctions apply to President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said they were introduced "to put pressure on those responsible for repression."

Belarus Präsident Lukaschenko
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/BelTA/N. Petrov

Britain and Canada on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials following the disputed presidential election and a crackdown on protesters in Belarus.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the sanctions were introduced in coordination with Canada "in a bid to uphold democratic values and put pressure on those responsible for repression."

The measures apply to his son, Victor Lukashenko as well as Igor Sergeenko, the head of the presidential administration.

Raab added that the travel ban and asset freeze sent a "clear message" to Lukashenko's "violent and fraudulent regime" that "we don't accept the results of this rigged election."

"We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights," said Raab.

Raab, who is currently visiting South Korea, has previously threatened sanctions against Lukashenko as a result of an August 9 vote that critics have decried as illegitimate. He has also denounced "grisly respression" and called for an independent international investigation.

The 27-member European Union has also threatened Belarus with sanctions, but efforts to impose them have been vetoed by Cyprus.

The UK announced a new sanctions regime in July this year and imposed restrictions on 49 individuals and organizations involved in serious alleged human rights abuses.

They included 25 Russian nationals said to be linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, and 20 Saudis involved in the 2018 murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Last month's election gave Lukashenko a sixth term with 80% of the vote, spurring weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation. During the first few days of demonstrations, police arrested more than 7,000 people and used violence on protesters. 

lc/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)