The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office has expanded its sanctions list against the Belarusian authorities, including several law enforcement agencies and the Central Election Committee (CEC). The same day the U.S. Department of State has imposed visa restrictions on 40 individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated one individual and four entities for their roles in the presidential election in Belarus and the subsequent violent post-election crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests.
“The Belarusian people continually seek to peacefully exercise their basic democratic rights, and the state repeatedly responds with violent crackdowns,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “This action, in conjunction with those taken previously by the United States and our international partners, continue to hold accountable the individuals and organizations carrying out these unacceptable actions.”
Restrictive measures have been introduced against: Deputy Minister of the Interior and Chief of the Criminal Police Gennady Kazakevich; the Belarusian Central Election Commission led by Lidiya Ermoshina, Minsk Special Purpose Police Unit (OMON), the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of the Minsk City Executive Committee (GUVD) and KGB Alpha.
Kazakevich was added to the list for being responsible “for the actions of the Criminal Police in their role of carrying out previously sanctioned Alexander Lukashenko’s policy of violently cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Belarus.”
According to the agency, the Belarusian CEC is responsible for managing the fraudulent 9 August presidential election, which was held with “a myriad of irregularities that made it neither free nor fair, including barring opposition candidates, denying access to poll observers, and certifying inaccurate vote tallies.”
The GUVD, the Minsk OMON and the KGB found themselves under sanctions, for their involvement in the violent post-election crackdown and suppression of peaceful protests in Minsk. The OMON is accused of using excessive and brute violence against protesters, detainees and journalists, while the KGB Alfa special forces supplemented the riot police in the violent crackdown on protests.
“The U.S. Department of State has taken action pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 8015 to identify 39 individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy and has imposed visa restrictions on them,” said the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The press statement notes that “to date, the U.S. Department of State has imposed visa restrictions […] on a total of 63 individuals for their involvement in undermining democracy in Belarus, in the fraudulent August presidential election, and in the subsequent violent crackdown that continues to this day.”