National Post (Latest Edition)

Sanc­tions tar­get Be­larus lead­er­ship

- European Politics · Politics · Elections · Belarus · Ottawa · Canada · United Kingdom · Alexander Lukashenko · United Nations General Assembly · United Nations · United States of America · Dominic Raab · Vladimir Putin · Russia · Russian Empire

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.”

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