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The United States imposed new sanctions on the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, accused of brutal repression against his opposition, a White House official told AFP news agency.
President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order targeting Lukashenko for an ongoing “assault on the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Belarusian people, transnational repression and abuses,” a spokesman for the Democratic administration said.
In this regard, the White House official told AFP that the Treasury set sanctions against Belarusian companies, personalities and entities, including its National Olympic Committee, shortly after the attempted forced repatriation of a Belarusian athlete participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury come one year after the Belarusian elections that the White House described as “fraudulent.”
They also assured “that the regime has only expanded its repression and even threatened the safety of an Olympic athlete outside its borders.”
Belarusian athlete who asked for protection during the Olympics
Belarusian athlete Kryscina Tsimanouskaya, who was participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, recently requested protection from police authorities at Tokyo’s Haneda airport following an attempted forced deportation, which she called a kidnapping, after she posted messages criticizing her coaches and managers.
Tsimanouskaya was supposed to participate in the women’s 200 meters and had protested in a video on networks because she had been entered in another race (the 4×100 relay) in which she was not scheduled to take part, after other athletes were excluded from the event.
The athlete also stated that she was “under pressure” from the Belarusian athletics team officials and that she had been asked to return to her country, so she asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help.
The crackdown by Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 27 years, on the country’s athletes is nothing new. The Belarus Olympic Committee is vetoed by the IOC, which does not recognize the president’s son as the leader of the National Olympic Committee and who is not allowed to attend any IOC event.
In light of this, the White House spokesman noted that with today’s actions “President Biden is making good on his promise to hold the Belarusian regime accountable for its abuses.”
The latest sanctions target key institutions and supporters of the Belarusian leader, including the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, business leaders and companies such as a Belarusian private bank.
Also on the list is Belaruskali OAO, one of Belarus’ largest state-owned enterprises and one of the world’s largest potash producers. The White House spokesman alleged that it is a “source of illegal wealth” for the regime. In addition, the United States accused the Olympic Committee of facilitating money laundering, sanctions evasion and circumventing visa bans.