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9 Aug, 2021 15:55

US unveils new sanctions on Belarus over crackdown on protests after Biden meets with opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya

US unveils new sanctions on Belarus over crackdown on protests after Biden meets with opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya

The White House has announced a tranche of new economic measures against the government of Belarus, hitting a range of state industries including those in defense, energy, agriculture and the country’s National Olympic Committee.

In a new order, US President Joe Biden officially signed into force a series of sanctions against 23 individuals and 21 organizations, including government agencies, companies and other state bodies. The order cited “the Belarusian regime’s harmful activities and longstanding abuses aimed at suppressing democracy and the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.”

This, the statement said, includes “illicit and oppressive activities stemming from the August 9, 2020 fraudulent Belarusian presidential election and its aftermath, such as the elimination of political opposition and civil society organizations and the regime’s disruption and endangering of international civil air travel.”

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According to the document, the actions of the Belarusian government and its embattled leader, Alexander Lukashenko, “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

At the end of July, Biden met with opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as part of her tour of the US, which saw her meet with officials and elected representatives across the political spectrum. Tikhanovskaya claims that she is the true victor of last summer’s presidential elections, in which Lukashenko claimed victory, with the opposition and many international observers insisting it was rigged in his favor.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the aftermath to call for a fresh poll and were met with a heavy-handed police crackdown. Tikhanovskaya has been based in Lithuania since then, and has called for the West to impose sanctions on the country.

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