The U.S. stands with the brave people of Belarus / Photo from UNIAN

The United States has expanded restrictive measures against individuals and legal entities from Belarus who are involved in efforts to undermine democracy in that country.

This is said in a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on December 23.

Read alsoUkraine aligns itself with EU restrictive measures against Belarus

"Today, the United States is taking action against individuals and entities involved in efforts to undermine Belarusian democracy. Specifically, the U.S. Departments of State and of Treasury have exercised their respective authorities against 40 individuals and four entities involved in electoral fraud and human rights abuses surrounding the fraudulent election in Belarus in August, and the authorities'' subsequent, brutal crackdown," the statement said.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted perpetrators of the violent crackdown.

According to it, Hennady Kazakevich is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13405 for being responsible for, or having participated in, actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Belarus.

As Deputy Minister of the Interior and Chief of the Criminal Police, Kazakevich was responsible for the actions of the Criminal Police in their role of carrying out previously sanctioned Alexander Lukashenko's policy of violently cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Belarus. The Minsk Special Purpose Police Unit (Minsk OMON), the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of the Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk GUVD), and KGB Alpha have been involved in the violent post-election crackdown on and suppression of peaceful protests in Minsk.

In addition, the U.S. Department of State has taken action pursuant to Presidential Proclamation (PP) 8015 to identify 39 individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy and has imposed visa restrictions on them. To date, the U.S. Department of State has imposed visa restrictions pursuant to PP 8015 on a total of 63 individuals for their involvement in undermining democracy in Belarus, in the fraudulent August 9 presidential election, and in the subsequent violent crackdown that continues to this day.

Earlier, since 2006, sanctions had been imposed against 25 Belarusian individuals and 13 legal entities.

The United States says it continues to support international efforts to independently investigate electoral irregularities in Belarus, the human rights abuses surrounding the election, and the crackdown that has followed.

"We stand with the brave people of Belarus and support their right to free and fair elections," Pompeo said.

Protests in Belarus: Key events

  • On August 9, presidential elections were held in Belarus. The country's Central Election Commission said 80.1% of the voters supported incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, 10.1% voted for his closest rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
  • Thousands have taken to the streets to protest what many believe was a rigged vote count. Riot police violently crack down on protesters, detain activists, and open politically motivated cases.
  • The European Union has not recognized election results and imposed sanctions against Belarusian officials over vote rigging and the use of violence against protesters.
  • On September 23, Lukashenko was sworn in a ceremony behind closed doors in Minsk.
  • On October 2, the European Union officially imposed sanctions against 40 representatives of the Lukashenko regime involved in the suppression of peaceful protests and the falsification of the presidential election campaign in Belarus. Lukashenko himself was not on the list.
  • On November 6, the European Union imposed sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko and 14 Belarusian officials. As indicated on the website of the European Council, in general, sanctions were imposed against 59 people from Belarus.
  • On November 19, EU foreign ministers agreed to begin preparations for the third round of sanctions.