Canada and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and six other senior government officials following the disputed presidential election and a crackdown on protesters in Belarus.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday that the sanctions were introduced as part of a co-ordinated approach with Canada “in a bid to uphold democratic values and put pressure on those responsible for repression.”
The measures include a travel ban and asset freeze on eight individuals from the Belarusian government, including Lukashenko, son Victor Lukashenko and Igor Sergeenko, the head of the presidential administration. Similar sanctions were imposed by Canada.
Earlier in September, François-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs, said, “Canada considers that Alexander Lukashenko lacks the legitimacy to be the leader of Belarus.”
Since the “fraudulent presidential elections” in August, Lukashenko “continues to display disdain for the people of Belarus by holding a so-called inauguration ceremony behind closed doors,” Champagne said in the statement.
“Such gestures only show Lukashenko’s disregard for basic democratic principles and the fundamental human rights of the people of Belarus,” he said.
The U.K. government said that Alexander Lukashenko is the first leader to have been sanctioned under its new global human rights sanctions regime, which was introduced in July.
“Today, the U.K. and Canada have sent a clear message by imposing sanctions against Lukashenko’s violent and fraudulent regime. We don’t accept the results of this rigged election,” Raab said in a statement.
“We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account, and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights.”
The political opposition in Belarus has challenged the results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election, which gave Lukashenko a sixth term with 80 per cent of the vote. Protests demanding his resignation have continued for more than seven weeks. Opposition figures and some poll workers say the results were fraudulent.
During the first few days of demonstrations, police arrested more than 7,000 people and used violence on protesters. Since then, opposition activists have been jailed and threatened with prosecution.