U.S. Sanctions Belarusian Election Officials & Lukashenko’s Personal Plane

Опубликовано: 28 Март 2023

LukashenkoBelarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s personal aircraft has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury. (Photo: Администрация президента Украины, Wikimedia, License)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned 13 Belarusian individuals and entities, including President Alexander Lukashenko’s aircraft, in response to his administration’s fraudulent actions during the country’s 2020 presidential election.

These designations, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said, are a response “to the ongoing brutal crackdown against the pro-democracy movement and civil society surrounding the fraudulent August 2020 presidential election.”

Amongst those sanctioned are regime officials implicated in undermining democratic ideals and for drawing up policies meant to threaten and intimidate the Belarusian people, the statement said.

Specifically, authorities drew attention to the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Belarus (CEC), which had already been designated on Dec. 2020, following the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, an exercise in democracy widely judged to be fraudulent.

According to the Treasury, the CEC played a vital role in Lukashenko’s re-election by “barring opposition candidates, denying access to poll observers, and certifying inaccurate vote tallies.”

Seven new members of the election commission were subsequently sanctioned by the U.S..

Also listed were the Open Joint Stock Company Belarusian Automobile Plant (BelAZ) and Open Joint Stock Company Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ), one of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world and Belarus, respectively.

The Treasury targeted BelAZ and MAZ after management from both companies threatened their employees with layoffs after they took part in strikes and peaceful protests against the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Lukashenko stated that his government will always support BelAZ and described it as both a “Belarusian brand” and “part of the national legacy.”

“The authoritarian Lukashenko regime relies on state-owned enterprises and key officials to generate substantial revenue that enables oppressive acts against the Belarusian people,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.

Both automotive manufacturers have already faced sanctions from the EU and Canada.

Additionally, Lukashenko’s presidential aircraft, a Boeing 737, was targeted by the U.S. Treasury.

Lukashenko is said to have exclusive access to the plane, which he reportedly uses for personal trips with his family and entourage.

The plane is now off limits to all U.S. citizens, OFAC said.

Through these sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken highlighted the country’s intent to promote accountability for the Lukashenko regime’s “brutal crackdown against the pro-democracy movement,” its “flagrant human rights abuses,” and its “facilitation of the Russian Federation’s illegal war against Ukraine.”

Belarus has drawn the condemnation of the international community since last February, when Lukashenko permitted Russian president Vladimir Putin to use his country as a launching point for Russia’s northern offensive against Ukraine.