Among the individuals and entities of the country targeted is the Olympic Committee, managed by the son of the dictator Alexandr Lukashenko, who during the Tokyo Games tried to make an athlete return against her will.
The United States announced sanctions on Belarusian personalities, companies, and entities on Monday, increasing pressure on the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, according to a statement released by the White House.
One year after elections deemed by the Western powers to be "fraudulent," in which Lukashenko won his disputed re-election and which were followed by a wave of repression against the opposition, the new executive order toughens the United States sanctions in force since 2006 against the regime, expanding them to several vital sectors of the economy of that Russian border country.
US President Joe Biden said that instead of respecting the explicit wishes of the Belarusian people, the Lukashenko government committed electoral fraud, followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent.
"The Lukashenko government's actions are an illegal attempt to retain power at all costs," he said.
A White House official stressed that the sanctions against Lukashenko are justified by his continued "attack on the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Belarusian people, transnational repression and abuses."
In parallel, the Treasury also ordered sanctions against Belarusian companies, personalities, and entities, including its national Olympic Committee, after the attempted forced repatriation of a Belarusian athlete participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
It's about targeting companies and businesses that operate as government departments.
In this sense, those who would probably favor both the personal enrichment of the Belarusian president and finance his regime in exchange for various favors were identified.
Among those sanctioned is Belaruskali OAO, one of the largest state-owned companies in Belarus and one of the largest potash producers in the world. It is alleged to be an illegal source of wealth for the regime.
The US announcement came shortly after the annual press conference of the Belarussian president, who once again declared his victory in an election campaign that is completely transparent against an opposition that is preparing a "coup" against him. Was
They are in danger of starting World War III. Are you trying to push us and the Russians into it?
Lukashenko said of Western sanctions.
Lukashenko was proclaimed the winner of the elections with more than 80% of the votes, a result considered fraudulent by many observers and sparked a protest movement unheard of in this former Soviet republic led by him since 1994.
Starting with the election campaign, he stepped up repression against his opponents.
But it even went further. At the Tokyo Olympics, which has now ended, Belarusian sprinter Krystina Tsimanouskaya sought protection to avoid being forced onto a plane back home, saying she feared for her life if she returned to Belarus after criticizing her coaches.
In an interview in Warsaw on Monday, the sprinter received a humanitarian visa from Poland and told AFP that she would like "my country to be free."
Tsimanouskaya was one of many Belarusian sports figures who in August 2020 publicly criticized violence against protesters in protests in the former Soviet country following the presidential vote.
The United States has accused the Olympic Committee of facilitating money laundering, evading sanctions, and visa bans.
In May, the Lukashenko government intercepted a Ryanair plane and detained a leading opposition activist and his girlfriend on board.
Days ago, Vitali Shishov, a dissident who ran an aid organization for Belarusian exiles, was found dead on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine. It was being investigated whether it was suicide or motivated death. Relatives accuse the special services of the Lukashenko regime. However, the latter has denied that his country was involved in the suspicious death.
One of the most demanded sanctions was Svetlana Tijanóvskaya, a leader who replaced her imprisoned husband on the fly and managed to unite all the Belarusian opposition currents. After Lukashenko's triumph, she ended up in exile. She was cared for abroad by numerous Western leaders, including Biden, who received her in July.