Western governments handed down a new wave of sanctions onto Belarus Monday in response to the forced grounding of a Ryanair flight in order to detain journalist Roman Protasevich.
The sanctions impose travel bans, asset freezes and financial penalties on multiple state-owned Belarusian companies, according to Reuters. Allies of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are the target, as his regime has cracked down further and further since an allegedly rigged election kept him in power last year.
The U.S., Canada, the EU and the U.K. blacklisted a number of officials from the government in Minsk in a coordinated effort. “We are united in our deep concern regarding the Lukashenko regime’s continuing attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms, and international law,” the powers said in a joint statement.
New Belarus sanctions, announced by Sec Blinken, will target dozens of Belarusian individuals & entities in response to the forced diversion of the Ryanair flight to arrest journalist/activist Raman Pratasevich. They are rolling out today alongside the EU, UK & Canada. pic.twitter.com/XtvH9CCTit
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) June 21, 2021
“We are united in calling for the regime to end its repressive practices against its own people,” the Western governments added. (RELATED: Biden Admin Condemns ‘Shocking Act’ After Belarus Forces Down Passenger Plane, Seizes Journalist On Board)
Lukashenko has denied rigging any elections and accused Protasevich of planning an insurrection. Thus far, Western sanctions have had seemingly little effect on his behavior, other than driving him closer to the Putin regime in Russia. European Union leaders are set to consider further, wider-ranging economic sanctions Thursday, according to Reuters.
“Our demand to Lukashenko remains the same: the release of political prisoners, an end to the violence against protesters and the opposition and an inclusive dialogue leading to free and fair elections,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.