The U.S. Government has imposed visa restrictions against 25 people in Belarus over their alleged involvement in “undermining democracy” in the Russia-allied country.
With this, the total number of Belarusians who have been subjected to visa restrictions by the Department of State after the 2020 Presidential Elections in the authoritarian state has risen to 322.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the latest round of Washington’s punitive measures is in response to the Lukashenko regime’s continued repression of the Belarusian people and their democratic aspirations. This includes the politically motivated trial in absentia of democratic opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and other democratic activists on baseless charges, Blinken said.
These politically motivated trials are the latest examples of the Lukashenko regime’s efforts to intimidate and repress those who seek justice, respect for human rights, and a democratic Belarus, he added.
The targeted officials include members of the National Assembly of Belarus for their role in passing legislation to authorize the death penalty for persons convicted of supposed “attempted acts of terrorism,” a charge used to repress and intimidate the democratic opposition and civil society. Some of them have also supported legislation revoking citizenship from those outside the country charged with “extremism,” and confiscating property for taking “unfriendly actions towards Belarus”.
Tsikhanouskaya leads the pro-democracy movement from exile in Vilnius, defends human rights, and continues to press for a democratic transition in Belarus. She is on trial along with other pro-democracy leaders, including Volha Kavalkova, head of the Coordination Council, the body tasked with facilitating Belarus’ democratic transition. Separately, the regime last month convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation founder Alex Apeikin and Belarusian Olympian Alyaksandra Herasimenia. The Lukashenko regime also continues to hold as a political prisoner Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, who has dedicated his life to defending human rights and advancing democratic change in Belarus.
Blnken said the United States will not stand by, as the Lukashenko regime continues to harass and repress peaceful protesters, the democratic opposition, journalists, unionists, activists, human rights defenders, and everyday Belarusians.
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