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US treasury sanctions Belarus’ election officials

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday issued new Belarus-related sanctions against nine individuals and three entities in response to an ongoing crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement and civil society. The sanctions announcement by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified as blocked a Boeing 737 that the Treasury Department said has been used by authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his family for official business and personal trips, including to international locations. The Associated Press has the story:

US treasury sanctions Belarus’ election officials

Newslooks- WASHINGTON (AP)

The U.S. imposed sanctions Friday on seven Belarusian elections officials, two state-owned automotive manufacturers and President Alexander Lukashenko‘s aircraft.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, intensified his repression after a wave of protests in 2020 following a presidential election that the West and Belarus’ opposition denounced as a sham.

FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 17, 2023. Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian leader Putin, is due in Beijing to begin a three-day state visit Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, as geopolitical tensions rise over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Lukashenko also has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has allowed him to station troops and weapons there to support his war in Ukraine.

Those sanctioned Friday include a new slate of commissioners on Belarus’ Central Election Commission, which was originally sanctioned in December 2020.

Lukashenko accused the opposition presidential candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, of plotting to overthrow the government. This month, a Belarusian court sentenced Tsikhanouskaya, now living in exile, to 15 years in prison.

FILE – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Democratic Forces of Belarus, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 19, 2023. A court in Belarus on Monday March 6, 2023 sentenced exiled opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya to 15 years in prison after a trial in absentia on charges including conspiring to overthrow the government. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Lukashenko’s aircraft, a Boeing 737 that he uses for international travel, was also designated for sanctions, which blocks its use in the U.S.

BelAZ, one of the largest manufacturers of large trucks and dump trucks in the world, and the automotive manufacturer MAZ were also sanctioned.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the U.S. “will continue to impose costs on the regime and those who support it for their repression of the people of Belarus” and for the Belarusian government’s support for Russia’s war.

The State Department also imposed visa restrictions on 14 additional people involved in “policies to threaten and intimidate the Belarusian people.”

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