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Biden signs sweeping executive order against Belarus

Biden signs sweeping executive order against Belarus
President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House last Thursday. On Monday, Biden issued a wide range of sanctions against Belarusian officials. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday issued a wide-ranging executive order against the Belarusian regime, accusing it of repressing human rights and democracy.

Biden released the executive order on the one-year anniversary of the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, which the United States and much of the international community said was fraudulent while widespread protests engulfed the country.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has rejected claims that his re-election was fraudulent and has forcefully put down protests. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others opposing Lukashenko have been forced to flee the country.

Biden said in a statement the "elimination of political opposition and civil society organizations and the regime's disruption and endangering of international civil air travel -- constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

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The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklisted a total of 23 people and 21 entities under the new sanctions as well as under a previous executive order for their involvement in the ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, the hijacking of a Ryanair flight in May to arrest an opposition journalist and for profiting from the Belarusian regime.

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The office described those individuals and entities sanctioned in a statement as the Lukashenka regime's "wallet" as they provide the "previously sanctioned Alyaksandr Lukashenka with funds to likely enrich Lukashenka personally and finance his corrupt and brutal regime."

The sanctions freeze all U.S. property and assets of those named as well as prohibit U.S. persons from doing business with them.

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"From detaining thousands of peaceful protesters to imprisoning more than 500 activists, civil society leaders, and journalists as political prisoners, to forcing the diversion of an international flight in an affront to global norms, the actions of the Lukashenka regime are an illegitimate effort to hold on to power at any price," Biden said in a statement.

"It is the responsibility of all those who care about human rights, free and fair elections, and freedom of expression to stand against this oppression. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights and free expression while holding the Lukashenka regime accountable, in concert with our allies and partners," Biden said.

The United States and Western countries including the European Union, Canada and Britain have sanctioned Belarus since the election.

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Britain and Canada also imposed new sanctions on Belarus to coincide with the anniversary on Monday.

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also put in place aviation measures to prevent Belarusian air carriers from flying over Britain.

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