Following the United Kingdom and Canada, the U.S. increased pressure on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime. On Monday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order enacting new regulations.
According to a White House official, the current wave of penalties on Belarusian persons and businesses would target the country’s economy and the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, which is the U.S.’s largest to date on Belarusian individuals and entities.
Belaruskali OAO, one of Belarus’ largest state-owned firms and one of the world’s top potash producers, will be blacklisted. Belarus’ major foreign currency earner is the firm, whose product is used in fertilizers.
The Belarusian National Olympic Committee will also face sanctions as a result of allegations that it aided money laundering, sanctions evasion, and visa evasion.
This comes after Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to fly home after being transported to the airport against her will during the just-finished Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tsimanouskaya has since applied for asylum in Poland.
Western governments have stepped up their pressure on Lukashenko, who is accused of manipulating elections last August and cracking down on the opposition in order to extend his 27-year rule. Lukashenko has disputed that the vote was rigged.
On Monday, the United Kingdom announced fresh sanctions against oil and potash exports. Lukashenko claimed Britain’s sanctions would make him “choke” and that he was open to discussions with the West rather than sanctions imposition.
Canada also placed further sanctions on Belarus in response to what it called Lukashenko’s “gross and systematic breaches of human rights.”