UK, Canada impose sanctions on Belarus president, 7 others

World

Demonstrators light their cell phones during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in the Belarusian capital calling for the authoritarian president’s ouster, some wearing cardboard crowns to ridicule him, on Sunday as the protests that have rocked the country marked their 50th consecutive day. (AP Photo/TUT.by)

LONDON (NewsNation Now) — Britain has imposed sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials following the disputed presidential election and a crackdown on protesters in Belarus.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday that the sanctions were introduced as part of a coordinated approach with Canada “in a bid to uphold democratic values and put pressure on those responsible for repression.”

The measures include a travel ban and asset freeze on eight individuals from the Belarusian government, including Lukashenko, son Victor Lukashenko and Igor Sergeenko, the head of the presidential administration. Similar sanctions were imposed by Canada.

The British government said that Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for over 26 years, is the first leader to have been sanctioned under Britain’s new global human rights sanctions program, which was introduced in July.

“Today, the U.K. and Canada have sent a clear message by imposing sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko’s violent and fraudulent regime. We don’t accept the results of this rigged election,” Raab said in a statement.

“We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account, and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights.”

The political opposition in Belarus has challenged the results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election, which gave Lukashenko, a 66-year-old former state farm director, a sixth term with 80% of the vote.

Protests demanding his resignation have continued for more than seven weeks with hundreds of thousands of Belarusians protesting daily since the election. Opposition figures and some poll workers say the results were fraudulent.

Authorities in Belarus have detained about 500 people during weekend protests. Belarus’ Interior Ministry said Monday that 150 protesters were detained on Saturday and over 350 more on Sunday, when anti-government protests spanned 22 cities. Daily rallies have rocked Belarus for over seven weeks now, with the largest ones drawing up to 200,000 people, in the biggest challenge yet to President Alexander Lukashenko’s long hard-line reign.

About 100,000 demonstrators marched in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Sunday, demanding the resignation of Lukashenko, who has cracked down hard on opposition and independent news media during 26 years in power. During the first few days of demonstrations, police arrested more than 7,000 people and used violence on protesters. Since then, opposition activists have been jailed and threatened with prosecution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Yuras Karmanau contributed to this article. Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.

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