Trump imposes fresh sanctions on Belarus over electoral fraud, human rights abuses

Trump imposes fresh sanctions on Belarus over electoral fraud, human rights abuses
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The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed additional sanctions on dozens of Belarussian officials and four offices over electoral fraud and human rights abuses following that country's elections.

“The United States continues to support international efforts to independently investigate electoral irregularities in Belarus, the human rights abuses surrounding the election, and the crackdown that has followed,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE said in a statement Wednesday. “We stand with the brave people of Belarus and support their right to free and fair elections.”

Protests in Belarus have taken place since August against elections that most of the international community said falsely awarded President Alexander Lukashenko a victory. Opponents have criticized the national vote as rigged and demand the president’s resignation. 

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Lukashenko has responded with a brutal crackdown on the protests, with more than 30,000 people detained over the course of five months and reports of torture and beatings.  

The individual sanctions target Belarus’s Deputy Minister of the Interior and Chief of the Criminal Police Henadz Arkadzievich Kazakevich (Kazakevich), who is blamed for the actions of the Criminal Police in their role in carrying out a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Belarus. 

The U.S. did not identify 39 other individuals who are incurring visa restrictions, which are typically kept confidential, over their responsibility in “undermining Belarusian democracy,” Pompeo said in his statement. 

The Treasury Department further targeted for sanctions the Belarusion CEC, the central commission charged with carrying out elections, for undermining the August elections, and identified three other entities as helping perpetrate the violent crackdown. 

These sanctioned entities are the Minsk Special Purpose Police Unit (Minsk OMON), the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of the Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk GUVD), and KGB Alpha, an elite unit of Belarus’s secret services. 

“The Belarusian people continually seek to peacefully exercise their basic democratic rights, and the state repeatedly responds with violent crackdowns,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE said in a statement.

“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," he continued.

The Trump administration in October imposed sanctions on Belarus’s interior minister and seven other officials that matched sanctions imposed by the European Union, Britain and Canada.