Saturday, May 29, 2021 11:12 pm
By Cecilia Ologunagba
U.S. will on Thursday re-impose “full blocking sanctions” on Belarus after forced diversion of a Ryanair flight to the country on May 23 and the arrest of an opposition journalist, Raman Protasevich on board.
The White House, in a statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, stated that the U.S. joined in public condemnation of the event and re-imposed sanctions on the country.
Belarus’s forced diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight under false pretenses, traveling between two member states of the European Union, and the subsequent removal and arrest of Pratasevich, a Belarusian journalist, are a direct affront to international norms.
“On June 3, the United States will re-impose full blocking sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises previously granted relief under a series of General Licenses by the Treasury Department,” she said.
Psaki added: “As a result of this measure, U.S. persons will be prohibited from engaging in transactions with these entities, their property, or their interests in property.
“The Department of State has issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel warning to U.S. citizens, urging them not to travel to Belarus.
“The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice to Airmen warning U.S. passenger carriers to exercise extreme caution when considering flying in Belarusian airspace.’’
In addition, Psaki said these events took place amid an escalating wave of repression by the Lukashenka regime against the aspirations of the people of Belarus for democracy and human rights.
She said, in response to the events of May 23 and the Lukashenka regime’s continuing attack on fundamental freedoms, the U.S. would take the following actions:
“The United States, in coordination with the EU and other partners and Allies, is developing a list of targeted sanctions against key members.
“The U.S is developing sanctions against key members of the Lukashenka regime associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election, and the events of May 23.
“The Treasury Department will develop for the President’s review a new Executive Order that will provide the United States increased authorities to impose sanctions on elements of the Lukashenka regime.
“It will impose sanctions on elements of Lukashenka regime, its support network, and those that support corruption, the abuse of human rights, and attacks on democracy.
“The Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is working closely on this matter with our European counterparts; the United States will suspend its discretionary application of the 2019 U.S-Belarus Air Services Agreement.’’
In addition, it stated that the U.S. had taken the measures together with its partners and Allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to demonstrate the commitment to the aspirations of the people of Belarus.
“We call on Lukashenka to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, immediately release all political prisoners, and enter into a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue.
“To enter into a comprehensive and political dialogue with the leaders of the democratic opposition and civil society groups that leads to the conduct of free and fair Presidential elections.’’ (NAN)