President Donald Trump signed the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill and pandemic relief legislation into law on last Sunday night. The document also includes the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020.
The document includes a number of foreign policy initiatives, in particular of Belarus. This is the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act. The law expands the U.S. president’s authority to impose sanctions against Belarus in connection with the disputed 2020 presidential election and subsequent government crackdown.
Sanctions, according to the document, can be imposed against election officials, Belarusian authorities, officials of the Union State who violated freedom of the media or human rights in Belarus. In addition, family members of the senior leadership of Belarus may be included in the sanctions list.
In the updated Act, the U.S. recognizes the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution to participate in a dialogue on a peaceful transition of power and does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the “legitimately elected leader of Belarus”. Also, Washington does not recognize the inclusion of Belarus into “the so-called Union State”.
🚨🚨🚨President @realDonaldTrump has signed H.R. 133, an Act making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, providing coronavirus emergency response and relief, and for other purposes.
— Judd Deere (@JuddPDeere45) December 28, 2020
The document also lists measures to assist Belarus: enhancing the development of the private sector, particularly the information technology sector, and its role in the economy of Belarus; support for political refugees fleeing repression in Belarus, and so on.
In addition, no later than four months later, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence must submit a report on the threat to the sovereignty and independence of Belarus. It will assess how the Russian government is using the current political crisis in Belarus.
A document on the financial status of Alexander Lukashenko and his closest associates should be submitted within three months. Recall that six days ago, the U.S. Senate passed the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill. After the document was signed by the incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, it came into force.