Washington, Oct 3 (IANS) The US Treasury Department has sanctioned eight Belarusian officials for their roles in the “fraudulent” August 9 presidential election and “undermining the democratic processes” in the eastern European country.
According to an official statement issued by the Department, these designations, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13405, “target individuals who are responsible for, or have participated in, undermining democratic processes in Belarus”.
Earlier, the Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had sanctioned 16 Belarusian officials pursuant in connection with the previous fraudulent 2006 and 2010 elections.
“The Belarusian people’s democratic aspirations to choose their own leaders and peacefully exercise their rights have been met with violence and oppression from Belarusian officials,” the statement quoted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as saying.
“The US and our international partners stand united in imposing costs on those who have undermined Belarusian democracy for years.
“Today’s action was taken in coordination with our international partners, the UK, Canada, and the European Union, to demonstrate the international community’s solidarity in standing with the Belarusian people against the fraudulent and violent actions of the Belarusian government,” he added.
E.O. 13405 was signed by former President George W. Bush following the fundamentally undemocratic elections of March 2006.
According to the statement, Friday’s action marked the first time that the Treasury used these authorities since 2011, following “another clearly undemocratic election”.
Belarus has witnessed mass unrest since incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 26 years, won another six years at the helm during the August 9 election.
He won by 80 per cent of the votes, while his main rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya garnered only 10 per cent of the ballots.
At least four people killed and hundreds injured in the widespread protests that followed.