Today, on the anniversary of the fraudulent Belarusian election of August 9, 2020, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed an Executive Order (E.O.) imposing further consequences upon Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his regime for their ongoing assault against the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Belarusian people, transnational repression and abuse, affronts to international norms, and corruption.
This E.O. provides strengthened authorities that empower the United States to raise the costs on the Lukashenka regime. Specifically, this E.O. expands the scope of the national emergency declared in E.O. 13405 of June 16, 2006, by authorizing the imposition of blocking sanctions on persons operating in certain identified sectors of the Belarus economy, including the defense and related materiel sector, security sector, energy sector, potassium chloride (potash) sector, tobacco products sector, construction sector, transportation sector, or any other sector of the Belarus economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is also issuing its largest round of sanctions to date against Belarusian individuals and entities pursuant to E.O. 13405 as well as the E.O. of August 9, 2021, including:
- Belaruskali OAO, which is one of Belarus’s largest state-owned enterprises, one of the world’s largest producers of potash, and a source of illicit wealth for the regime;
- The Belarusian National Olympic Committee, which is accused of facilitating money laundering, sanctions evasion, and the circumvention of visa bans, and which the International Olympic Committee has publicly reprimanded for its failure to protect Belarusian athletes from political discrimination and repression;
- Prominent businesspeople who support the Lukashenka regime as well as fifteen companies with which they are affiliated – including Absolutbank, a private Belarusian bank; and,
- Additional entities that operate in the tobacco products, construction, energy, and transportation sectors of the Belarus economy.
Democratic countries are strongest when we stand together. The United States welcomes the coordinated steps taken today by the United Kingdom and Canada against the Lukashenka regime and measures announced by the European Union on June 24.
In May, when Belarus forced the diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight, President Biden pledged to “develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible” and “to stand with the people of Belarus in their struggle.” Since then, the regime has only further expanded it repression, including by threatening the safety of an Olympic athlete outside its borders. With today’s actions, President Biden is abiding by his pledge to hold the Belarussian regime accountable for its abuses. The Biden administration’s position remains clear: the Lukashenka regime must permit a legitimate international investigation into the Ryanair flight diversion; it must immediately release all political prisoners; it must stop targeting activists and dissidents, including across borders, and it must initiate a genuine and comprehensive political dialogue with democratic opposition and civil society figures that results in a free and fair presidential election under OSCE observation.
Absent such steps, the U.S. government will continue to use this E.O. and other authorities to impose costs on the Lukashenka regime and its support network for enabling corruption, human rights abuses, transnational repression, and attacks against democratic freedoms and international norms.