Thursday, February 25, 2021

US hits Belarusian officers with travel bans for crackdown

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US secretary of state proclaims sanctions on 43 Belarusian nationals hours after two journalists are sentenced.

The United States on Thursday imposed travel restrictions on 43 Belarusian nationals recognized as participating in President Alexander Lukashenko’s “crackdown” on protesters and journalists.

The US motion was introduced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an announcement that adopted the sentencing Thursday of two journalists who had livestreamed an unlimited protest in Minsk in November.

Katsiaryna Bakhvalava, age 27, and Daria Chultsova, 23, each of the Polish-funded Belsat TV channel have been sentenced to 2 years in jail overlaying the protest.

The State Department additionally famous raids by Belarusian authorities on February 16 on Vyasna, an association of journalists, and on impartial commerce union employees.

Blinken’s assertion mentioned the US “remains alarmed by the Lukashenka regime’s continuing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, pro-democracy activists, and journalists”.

The sanctions proscribing travel to the US apply to “high-ranking justice sector officials, law enforcement leaders and rank-and-file personnel who detained and abused peaceful demonstrators”, Blinken’s assertion mentioned.

In addition, judges and prosecutors concerned in sentencing protesters and journalists, in addition to educational directors who threatened college students for participation in protests have been additionally sanctioned.

More than 33,000 individuals have been detained in a violent crackdown on protests in opposition to Lukashenko’s rule following a contested election final August that his opponents have mentioned was rigged to increase his rule, in line with the Reuters information service.

The crackdown has prompted Western international locations to impose new sanctions on Minsk. Lukashenko has refused to step down, buttressed by assist from Moscow, which sees Belarus as a buffer state in opposition to the European Union and NATO.

Previously, Washington had expanded sanctions on Belarus, concentrating on 4 entities and 40 people for his or her roles within the disputed presidential election and the federal government’s subsequent arrests of protesters.

The two journalists – Bakhvalava, who additionally goes by the final title of Andreyeva, and Chultsova – have been arrested in November after police broke down the door of a Minsk condo the place they have been broadcasting a livestream of an indication within the Belarusian capital.

AP 21049348601822Journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva, proper, and Daria Chultsova stand inside a defendants’ cage in a courtroom in Minsk, Belarus, because the court docket sentenced the 2 feminine journalists to 2 years in jail for overlaying a protest in opposition to the nation’s authoritarian president [AP Photo]

Addressing the court docket earlier than the decision, Bakhvalava promised to proceed working for “building a Belarus that won’t have political repressions”, in line with The Associated Press.

“I’m not pleading. I’m demanding acquittal for me and my colleagues,” she mentioned, referring to different jailed journalists.

The two have been charged with “organising actions rudely violating public order” – accusations they denied.

Meanwhile, a trial started Wednesday in Belarus for a financial institution government who had aspired to problem Lukashenko in final yr’s election however was blocked from operating attributable to legal expenses.

Viktor Babariko, 57, the previous head of Russia-owned Belgazprombank, has been jailed since June on corruption and cash laundering expenses. He has dismissed the accusations, saying they have been meant to forestall him from difficult Lukashenko.

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