Britain has imposed massive sanctions on eight Belarusian officials, including its President Alexander Lukashenko and his son, as punishment for “human rights violations and brawls”.
The UK has teamed up with Canada to impose the landmark sentences accusing Lukashenko of “a series of human rights abuses”, including torture against opposition leaders and journalists.
Hundreds of people have been forcibly thrown into prison for demonstrating against Lukashenko’s brutal regime as unrest has spread across the country.
Some have disappeared and many others have been kicked out of the country and denied re-entry if they continue their peaceful campaign to depose the tyrannical leader.
Well-known senior officials were also accused of forcibly suppressing political opponents, many of whom have disappeared or have been forced to flee the country.
Those affected by the new sanctions include police commanders and military leaders accused of violently suppressing political opposition, demonstrators and journalists.
The sanctions include travel bans and the freezing of assets of the despot leader Lukasheno, his son Victor and Igor Sergeenko, the head of the presidential administration.
Canada has agreed to mirror the sanctions in a joint effort to force Belarus to stop increasingly violent demonstrations across the country.
In a statement, the UK Foreign Office said: “Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is responsible for a number of human rights violations against the opposition, the media and the people of Belarus after rigged elections.
“Despite numerous appeals from the international community, he has refused to enter into a dialogue with the opposition and has instead chosen to redouble his violent repression.”
The sanctions come under a new system of punishment called the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, which gives the UK the power to crack down on human rights violations.
The 66-year-old Lukashenko has ruled the former Soviet country for 26 years, but faces growing demands from the opposition to resign over corruption.
He is the first leader to be sanctioned under global human rights sanctions, and this means that he cannot travel to the UK or run money through UK banks.
Britain has also doubled funding for human rights groups fighting its brutal regime, increasing funding to £ 1.5 million over the next two years.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said: “Today the UK and Canada sent a clear message by imposing sanctions on the violent and fraudulent regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
“We do not accept the results of this rigged election.
“We will hold those responsible for the fight against the Belarusian people accountable and stand up for our values of democracy and human rights.”
It is only the second time since it was introduced in July that this new type of sanction has been applied.
Then the Foreign Minister announced new sanctions against 49 people and organizations involved in some of the most notorious human rights abuses and abuses in recent years.
Among them were 25 Russian nationals who were implicated in the mistreatment and death of accountant Sergei Magnitsky.
Also badly hit were 20 Saudi nationals who were involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, two high-ranking military generals from Myanmar who were involved in the systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya people, and two organizations involved in forced labor, torture and murder were involved in North Korea’s gulags.
The full racket gallery of officials affected by the UK sanctions:
1. Alexander Lukashenko – President
2. Viktor Lukashenko – son and national security advisor to the President of Belarus
3. Igor Petrovich Sergeenko – Chief of Staff of the President of Belarus,
4. Yuri Karayev (Minister of the Interior, Major General of the Militia),
5. Alexander Barsukov (Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior and Chief of Police for Public Security),
6. Yuri Nazarenko (Deputy Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Internal Forces),
7. Khazalbek Atabekov (Deputy Commander of Internal Forces of the Ministry of Interior)
8.Dmitry Balaba (Commander of the Minsk Special Police alias OMON).
Yesterday, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it would impose sanctions on around 300 officials from the Baltic states in order to impose travel bans on more Belarusian officials.
The ministry announced that it would add around 100 officials from each Baltic state – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – to its sanctions list.
All those affected are NATO allies.