United States joins EU, UK and Canada in sanctions on Belarus after arrest of journalist

Sanctions include blackballing 46 Belarusian officials from entering the U.S.

Updated: June 22, 2021 - 11:43am

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The United States is joining the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada in imposing sanctions on Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the immediate grounding and arrest of opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich.

The countries collectively imposed two sets of sanctions – one on 16 top members of Lukashenko's team including his press secretary, the chairperson of the Belarusian Parliament’s upper house and leading officials of the judiciary and security sectors. 

The second prohibited 46 Belarusian officials from entering the United States. 

In a joint statement Monday, the countries said they were disappointed with the regime's actions.

Pratasevich and girlfriend Sofiya Sapega were arrested May 23 by Belarusian officials after their flight from Athens to Lithuania was grounded because of an alleged bomb threat. They remain in Belarusian custody.

"We are united in calling for the regime to end its repressive practices against its own people," the statement read. "We are disappointed the regime has opted to walk away from its human rights obligations, adherence to democratic principles, and engagement with the international community."

Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a separate statement the U.S. will not tolerate attacks on democracy. 

"The United States and its partners will not tolerate continued attacks on democracy and the ceaseless repression of independent voices in Belarus," Gacki said. “Today’s actions, taken on both sides of the Atlantic, hold accountable those who continue to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people through abuses of human rights, attacks on the free press, and disregard for other fundamental freedoms."

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