The U.S. Treasury Department has blocked a Boeing 737 that it says has been used by Belarus's authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka (second from right) and his family for official business and personal trips.
The U.S. Treasury Department on March 24 issued new Belarus-related sanctions against nine individuals and three entities in response to an ongoing crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement and civil society.
The sanctions announcement by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified as blocked a Boeing 737 that the Treasury Department said has been used by authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his family for official business and personal trips, including to international locations.
The OFAC singled out two other entities for sanctions -- the Belarusian Automobile Plant (BelAZ) and the Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ) -- saying both plants threatened employees "who took part in strikes and peaceful protests in the aftermath of the fraudulent August 2020 presidential election."
Protest participants were intimidated and then laid off at MAZ and were threatened with layoffs at BelAZ, according to the Treasury Department.
BelAZ is one of the largest manufacturers of large trucks and dump trucks in the world, according to the Treasury Department, and Lukashenka has described it as a “Belarusian brand” and “part of the national legacy.”
Both BelAZ and MAZ, one of the biggest automotive manufacturers in Belarus and a significant source of revenue for the Lukashenka regime, were designated for being owned or controlled by the Belarusian government. They were previously designated by the European Union and Canada.
OFAC also blacklisted BelAZ’s director, Sergei Nikiforovich, and MAZ’s director, Valery Ivankovich, citing their roles as officials of the Belarusian government.
“The authoritarian Lukashenka regime relies on state-owned enterprises and key officials to generate substantial revenue that enables oppressive acts against the Belarusian people,” Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the Treasury Department's statement announcing the sanctions. “We remain committed to imposing costs on the Lukashenka regime for its suppression of democracy and support for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war of choice.”
The OFAC also blacklisted seven recently appointed members of the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC), which is already under sanctions.
The department said the CEC “played a role in barring opposition candidates, denying access to poll observers, and certifying inaccurate vote tallies.”
OFAC previously designated senior members of the CEC in the wake of the August 2020 presidential election, which Lukashenka claimed he won, while opposition politicians and activists say the vote was rigged. The action on March 24 adds members of the commission who joined since the election.
The sanctions freeze any property held in U.S. jurisdiction by the individuals and entities. In addition, people in the United States who engage in transactions with those designated may themselves be exposed to sanctions, the Treasury Department said.
The State Department on March 24 concurrently announced visa restrictions on an additional 14 individuals, including regime officials “involved in policies to threaten and intimidate brave Belarusians exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms at great personal cost.”
The United States will continue to impose “costs” on the Belarusian regime and on people who support it “for their repression of the people of Belarus, and the regime’s ongoing support for Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine,” the State Department statement said.