Two Belarusian Civil Rights Groups' Bank Accounts Frozen Amid Crackdown.

Belarusian authorities have frozen the bank accounts of two civil rights groups without explanation amid an ongoing crackdown on nongovernmental organizations.

Officials from the Belarusian PEN Club and the charitable organization Imena (Names) said they were informed of the move on July 19, without being given a reason explaining the decision.

The PEN Club, led by writer Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize laureate and member of the Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition, said on Telegram that the organization's account had been frozen by the Investigative Committee in a decision made on July 13.

The Coordination Council is a body set up by the political opposition in Belarus last year to facilitate the transfer of power in the country following a presidential election in August 2020 that the opposition says was rigged and the West has refused to accept.

The same day, Imena founder Katsyaryna Sinyuk said her group's bank account was frozen by the Investigative Committee as of July 14.

Sinyuk's group was among at least 19 NGOs and media organizations raided by police on July 14 , after which at least a dozen people were detained.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians continue to demand the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka amid a brutal crackdown on protesters. The West refuses to recognize him as the country's legitimate leader after an August 9 election considered fraudulent.

Belarus has been mired in turmoil since the disputed presidential election that gave authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka his sixth consecutive term in power.

Lukashenka has since put down street protests and dissent over the vote with sometimes lethal force, jailing thousands of people and forcing most opposition leaders who haven't been imprisoned to leave the country.

The West, which has refused to recognize the official results of the vote and does not consider Lukashenka to be the country's legitimate leader, has imposed several rounds of sanctions against the 66-year-old, some of his family members, other senior officials, and on key economic sectors.

The EU recently imposed further far-reaching penalties aimed at weakening the regime after the forced landing of a European passenger plane in Minsk and the arrest of an opposition blogger who was on board.

In April, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey publicly warned that further Western sanctions against Lukashenka's government would be met by a crackdown on the country's civil society.

"Any further toughening of the sanctions will lead to the situation where the civil society [in Belarus] of which they [in the West] care, will stop functioning. And that will be, I believe, absolutely grounded in the current situation," Makey said at the time.

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