Sabtu, 29 Mei 2021

US slaps sanctions on Belarus following forced landing of Ryanair plane carrying journalist Roman Protasevich - ABC News

Joe Biden's administration is drawing up a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government after the former Soviet republic forced a passenger jet to land and arrested a dissident journalist who was on board.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was also suspending a 2019 agreement between Washington and Minsk that allowed carriers from each country to use each other's airspace, and taking other actions against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko.

In a statement, she called on Mr Lukashenko to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, when the Ryanair passenger jet flying from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk.

Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force the plane to land, then detained opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was on board, drawing condemnation from Europe, the US and Australia.

Ms Psaki said the US, with the EU and other allies, was developing a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Mr Lukashenko's government "associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election, and the events of May 23".

Last year the US imposed sanctions on eight Belarusian officials over an August 2020 election that the West said was rigged.

US President Joe Biden said earlier in the week that sanctions against Belarus were "in play", without giving details.

A close-up of US President Joe Biden, frowning
President Joe Biden is set to hit Belarus with sanctions.(

Reuters: Kevin Lamarque


The US Treasury Department will develop an executive order for Mr Biden to sign that will provide increased authority to impose sanctions, and the United States will re-impose "full blocking sanctions" on nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises on June 3, banning US citizens from dealing with those businesses.

Last month the US revoked an authorisation for certain transactions with the nine sanctioned state-owned enterprises over alleged human rights violations and abuses. 

The sanctions come after an emotional appeal for help by Mr Protasevich's parents, who spoke to reporters in Poland.

"I want you to hear my scream, the scream of my soul, see my tears, understand how hard it is for us, how hard it is to comprehend this absurd situation," his mother Natalia Protasevich said.

"On August 17, 2020 we had to leave the country ... We took this difficult decision because, first of all, we thought they could use us to hurt our son," she added.

"We were also getting direct threats."

Ms Protasevich urged her son not to give up.

"Stay strong son, stay strong, we love you and we will get you out."

Fears grow in Belarus

Those who want to leave Belarus are feeling increasingly cornered.

Its land borders already were under tight restrictions, and now the European Union has banned flights from Belarus after the plane was diverted.

That leaves opposition-minded Belarusians with few options to get out from under the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.

“Shutting the borders turns Belarus into a can of rotting preserves. We are being turned into hostages,” said Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, who leads a rights group that helps those released from prison adapt to life and also organizes documentary film festivals.

“The authorities have scaled up repressions in recent months to incite the atmosphere of fear,” she told The Associated Press.

Ms Hatsura-Yavorska said most of her friends and associates have faced detention, searches and brutal beatings, and many had fled Belarus.

Three police in black and helmets drag a person by their grey hoodie.
People want to flee Belarus becaue of the increasingly dire conditions in the country.(



She served 10 days in jail after organising a photo exhibition about medical workers in the coronavirus pandemic that authorities decided leaned toward the opposition. She faces charges that could land her in prison for three years.

Hatsura-Yavorska said following her arrest last month, she was put in an ice-cold cell for two days without a mattress and was forced to wake up every two hours at night.

The authorities released her after 10 days on the condition she not leave the city pending a criminal investigation on charges of “organising actions that violate public order.”

“Who would like to remain in such a country?” she said by phone. “The authorities have divided all citizens into loyalists and enemies, and treat us accordingly.”


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2021-05-29 07:30:12Z

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