National Post (Latest Edition)
Sanctions target Belarus leadership
OTTAWA • Canada has imposed sanctions on the president of Belarus and his government over what it says was a fraudulent election.
Canada imposed the sanctions in conjunction with Britain against officials in the Belarusian government, including President Alexander Lukashenko, who is facing widespread accusations of winning a rigged ballot.
Belarus has witnessed wide- scale protests and violence since the Aug. 9 reelection of Lukashenko, an authoritarian leader.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois- Philippe Champagne has called the election result fraudulent and said free and fair elections must take place in Belarus.
Last week at the UN General Assembly, the foreign minister of Belarus warned Western countries not to impose sanctions.
Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told the virtual meeting of world leaders that interference in his country’s internal affairs would be harmful for everyone.
“Canada will not stand by silently as the government of Belarus continues to commit systematic human rights violations and shows no indication of being genuinely committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups,” Champagne said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Canada and the United Kingdom are acting together to ensure these sanctions have a greater impact and to demonstrate unity in our condemnation of the situation.”
The sanctions were the first to be implemented by major Western powers over the crisis in Belarus, a close Russian ally. There was no immediate announcement from United States, which sources had said last week was planning to coordinate a joint announcement with its two big English-speaking allies.
More than 12,000 people have been arrested in mass demonstrations since Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, was named the landslide winner of an Aug. 9 presidential election his opponents say was stolen.
Lukashenko denies electoral fraud. All major opposition figures are either in jail or in exile.
On Tuesday, the authorities announced they were revoking the registration of Belarus’s biggest news organization outside state control, website TUT.BY. Its staff said they would try to keep operating.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters that Lukashenko should pay a cost for “the kind of human rights abuses that we’ve seen and the fraudulent approach to that election.” Raab also mentioned Lukashenko’s ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, although none of the measures Britain announced on Tuesday targets Russia or any Russians.
“We can’t just have a situation where the likes of Alexander Lukashenko and frankly Vladimir Putin think that the human rights abuses and the rigging of that election can just pass without them being held to account.”