US Develops Targeted Sanctions Against Belarusian Officials After Plane Crash
Adds statement details and quotes, background
WASHINGTON, May 28 (Reuters) – The Biden administration announced on Friday that it was drawing up a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government following the forced landing of a passenger plane by the former Soviet republic and the arrest of a journalist on board.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was also suspending a 2019 agreement between Washington and Minsk that allowed carriers from either country to use the other’s airspace and take over further measures against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a statement, she called on Lukashenko to authorize a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, when the Ryanair airliner from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk.
Belarusian authorities jammed a fighter jet and reported what turned out to be a false bomb threat to force the plane to land, then arrested an opposition journalist who was on board, prompting conviction from Europe and the United States.
Psaki said the US, along with the EU and other allies, were developing a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Lukashenko’s government “associated with continued human rights violations and corruption, to the falsification of the 2020 elections and the events of May 23. “.
Last year, the United States imposed sanctions on eight Belarusian officials in an August 2020 election that the West said was rigged.
President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that sanctions against Belarus were “at stake”, without giving details.
The Treasury Department will draft an executive order to be signed by Biden that will provide increased powers to impose sanctions on elements of Lukashenko’s government, and the United States will reimpose “full block sanctions” on nine Belarusian state-owned companies on June 3, prohibiting US nationals from doing business with these companies.
Last month, the United States revoked the authorization of certain transactions with the nine state-owned companies sanctioned for alleged human rights violations and abuses.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)
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