US re-imposes sanctions on Belarus for human rights violations

The Biden administration on Monday renewed United States sanctions on 9 state-owned corporations in Belarus for human rights violations by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The transfer by the US Treasury Department primarily forestalled potential future gross sales of US crude oil to the previous Soviet-state, which US officers had hoped was on the lookout for different sources to Russian provide for its refineries.

The US Department of State cited authorities suppression of political protests following the August 2020 re-election of Lukashenko, which the US has mentioned was fraudulent.

The motion got here as a “consequence of the Belarusian authorities’ flagrant disregard for human rights and Belarus’ failure to adjust to its obligations underneath worldwide regulation” the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned in an announcement.

More than 340 political prisoners are being detained in Belarus, a part of a political crackdown in opposition to dissent following Lukashenko’s re-election, in accordance with the State Department.

“The United States calls on the Belarusian authorities to instantly and unconditional launch all these unjustly detained or imprisoned,” Blinken mentioned.

Blinken particularly named a number of political prisoners nonetheless being held whom US officers are involved about.

Belarusian political determine Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who had meant to run in opposition to Lukashenko in 2020, was arrested earlier than the August election and stays imprisoned. Protest chief Maria Kolesnikova was detained in September after a mass march in opposition to the Lukashenko authorities.

Blinken additionally cited the persevering with imprisonment of blogger Ihar Losik, who has been on a starvation strike.

Protesters in Kyiv mourn the dying of Belarusian anti-government protester Roman Bondarenko in November 2020 [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

“The 9 state-owned enterprises affected by this motion, finance and help the Lukashenko regime, facilitating its violent repression of the Belarusian folks and repeated rejection of the rule of regulation,” Blinken’s assertion mentioned.

The sanctioned corporations are Belarusian Oil Trade House, Belneftekhim, Belneftekhim USA, Inc, Belshina OAO, Grodno Azot OAO, Grodno Khimvolokno OAO, Lakokraska OAO, Naftan OAO, Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO, in accordance with the US Treasury Department.

The sanctions had been lifted since 2015 when the US and Western nations started attempting to develop higher relations with Belarus. The US had exported $112m in items to Belarus in 2020, largely medicines and automobiles, and imported $332m, largely fertiliser, iron and metal, in accordance the US authorities information.

In February, the US imposed journey restrictions on 43 Belarusian nationals recognized as participating in Lukashenko’s political crackdown. The journey sanctions  had been triggered by the sentencing of two journalists who had live-streamed an infinite protest in Minsk in opposition to Lukashenko’s rule in November.

The European Union has additionally imposed journey and monetary sanctions on Belarus officers and corporations to no impact.

With help from Moscow, Lukashenko has refused to step down and blamed the protests on Western makes an attempt to overthrow him.

Last month, police in Belarus detained as many as 175 folks as they gathered for rallies in opposition to Lukashenko in a number of cities.

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