U.S. Treasury announces new sanctions on Belarusian entities, individuals
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury on Friday sanctioned three Belarusian state-linked entities and nine individuals in response to an ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activists launched after a 2020 presidential poll that the opposition and Western governments rejected as fraudulent.
The Treasury also identified a U.S.-made Boeing 737 jet as the property of Alexander Lukashenko, the U.S.-sanctioned Belarusian leader and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies charges that his 2020 election victory was rigged.
Identifying the aircraft as part of a fleet of luxury planes used by Lukashenko and his family effectively blocked its use in the United States.
The sanctions generally prohibit Americans from doing business with the designated entities and individuals, and could bring similar measures against any financial institutions or persons who conduct transactions with them.
The Treasury said in a statement that it was sanctioning two major Belarusian automotive makers, including the Belarusian Automobile Plant, which it called one of the world's biggest producers of large trucks and dump trucks.
Also designated was the Minsk Automobile Plant, which the Treasury statement said is "a significant source of revenue" for Lukashenko's government
The Treasury also announced sanctions against both companies' directors.
The Minsk Automobile Plant management intimidated and fired workers for participating in strikes and peaceful protests over Lukashenko's claim of victory in the August 2020 election, Treasury said.
Belarusian Automobile Plant workers were intimidated and threatened with layoffs for the same reason, it said.
The statement said sanctions were imposed on seven members of Belarus' central election commission, as well as the commission itself.
Finally, the Treasury said visa restrictions were slapped on 14 individuals, including regime officials, to mark Belarusian Freedom Day, an unofficial holiday commemorating the country's 1918 declaration of independence from the Russian empire.
Lukashenko is beholden to Putin for backing him after the outbreak of the mass protests over the Belarusian leader's 2020 election. Lukashenko allowed Belarus to be used as a launch pad for Putin's 2021 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
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