UK imposes sanctions on Belarus in response to human rights violations by Lukashenko regime

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko Credit: AP

The UK have imposed sanctions on Belarus on the anniversary of the country's "fraudulent" election

The government imposed the package of trade, financial and aviation sanctions on Belarus, "in response to the continued undermining of democracy and human rights violations by the Lukashenko regime".

Long-time leader of Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko won re-election for a sixth time in 2020 with 80% of the vote, in a ballot deemed “neither free nor fair” by the European Union, sparking international outrage.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya Credit: AP

The set of sanctions prevent Belarusian airliners overflying or landing in the UK and include prohibitions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance to Belarusian state bodies, and changes to the UK Government’s policy to further tighten the existing arms embargo. 

US president Joe Biden is also expected to announce new sanctions measures on Monday.

The latest package of sanctions comes after the UK imposed measures against seven individuals and one entity from the Belarusian regime in June, in response to the detention of journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega following the diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 in May 2021.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The Lukashenko regime continues to crush democracy and violate human rights in Belarus. These sanctions demonstrate that the UK will not accept Lukashenko’s actions since the fraudulent election.

"The products of Lukashenko’s state-owned industries will not be sold in the UK, and our aerospace companies will not touch his fleet of luxury aircraft.”

The latest sanctions come after a Belarusian Olympic athlete sparked a diplomatic incident when she refused to return to her homeland after the Games saying her life was in danger.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya sought refuge in Europe after accusing team officials of trying to force her to leave the Tokyo Games early.

Belarus police detaining journalist Roman Protasevich in Minsk during a protest in 2017. Credit: AP

She said officials from her country “made it clear” she would face punishment if she returned home after she critisised Belarus Olympic officials on Instagram.

Last week, a Belarusian activist Vitaly Shishov who ran a group in Ukraine helping Belarusians fleeing persecution was found dead in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv

Boris Johnson gave his emphatic backing to the Belarusian opposition leader last week, telling Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Downing Street: "We are very much on your side, very much in support of what you are doing".