Canada Marks Anniversary of Lukashenko’s Disputed Victory with Additional Sanctions
To mark the third anniversary of Belarus’ 2020 presidential election, the Canadian government sanctioned an additional 16 Belarusian government and judicial individuals and entities in response to the country’s ongoing systematic human rights violations.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly further stated that those blacklisted are also persons who are complicit in Russia’s almost year and a half long invasion of Ukraine, a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties and displaced millions more.
Those targeted occupy government and judicial positions within Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, such as the head of the country’s state television network, Ivan Mikhailovich Eismant.
In addition to Belarus’ Ministry of Defense, whose minister was blacklisted in 2021, Canada also sanctioned the country’s Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as multiple military, technology, and engineering companies.
The sanctions mark the third anniversary of Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in Belarus’ 2020 elections, which led to his sixth term in office. The results, however, were almost immediately marred by claims of widespread fraud in the eyes of the international community.
“It has been three years since the fraudulent August 9, 2020 Belarusian presidential election, which followed a campaign marred by systematic voter repression, including state-sponsored violence against protestors, activists and journalists,” Global Affairs Canada said. “Since then, the grave injustices carried out by the Belarusian government against its own people have not stopped.”
Several countries west of Belarus, including Canada, the U.S., and almost all of Europe ultimately did not recognize Lukashenko’s presidency. A week after the election, the European Parliament stated that Lukashenko had become a persona non grata in the EU, in response to the violence and mass protests that arose from his disputed victory.
Rather than allow an investigation, however, Lukashenko immediately pushed to cement his hold on power. Police were called in to dispel protestors by any means necessary, including mass arrests.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, then widely seen as the primary opposition candidate, was forced to flee the country for fear of arrest due to her challenging of the results. She has since been sentenced in-absentia to 15 years in prison.
Canada also said that the sanctions are also a direct result of Belarus’ ongoing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his continued war of aggression against Ukraine. The invasion has since claimed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions of Ukrainian citizens.
“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the Belarusian regime’s support of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, which has killed and injured thousands, displaced millions,” Global Affairs Canada said. “We call on Lukashenko to immediately withdraw his support for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”