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Struggles – US imposes sanctions on Belarus after international repression

The United States on Monday announced sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned companies after President Alexander Lukashenko ignored calls for the release of political prisoners held during the struggle for democracy.

Since 2015, Washington has exempted nine Belarusian companies, including Belneptechim, from the embargo, in recognition of small improvements in the European country that Lukashenko has ruled for two and a half decades.

On May 31, the government of President Joe Biden warned that these companies would be banned again if Belarus did not release prisoners. This Monday, he complied with that threat.

“This is another consequence of the Belarusian authorities ‘blatant disregard for human rights and another consequence of Belarus’ breach of its obligations under international human rights law,” Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been unjustly detained or imprisoned,” he added.

The Treasury Department has warned that companies must close contracts with Belarusian companies before June 3 or face US sanctions.

Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, won the presidency for the sixth time in August 2020, considered a fraud by the opposition and the international community.

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