Head of US Helsinki Commission Proposes US Treasury Sanctions Against Belarusian State-Owned Companies

13 August, 2020 23:41, VOA

The state-owned Belaruskali plant in Soligorsk is one of the largest exporters of minerals in Belarus.

In response to the Lukashenko regime falsifying the results of the election and brutally suppressing mass protests of the citizens, his access to the American financial system should be blocked.

Representative Alcee Hastings, chairman of the US Helsinki Commission (the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, CSCE) asked the US administration to revoke access to the US financial system for 9 largest state-owned companies of Belarus.

The letter published in response to violent suppression of peaceful protests in Belarus after the falsification of the results of the presidential election on the 9th of August states:

As President Alexander Lukashenko violently suppresses peaceful protests in Belarus and flouts international election commitments, it is unacceptable for the United States to be doing business with this brutal regime.

Hastings reminded that in June 2006 the US authorities had issued an executive order on Blocking Property of Certain Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Belarus in response to the fraudulent elections in March 2006 and the subsequent suppression of the protests:

The human rights abuses which have sadly become characteristic of the Lukashenko regime and which he is committing now more aggressively than ever as he attempts to squash fair political competition. There has never been a more appropriate time to fully implement this Executive Order and consider expanding its principle objectives with additional executive action.

In March 2006, during the presidential elections in Belarus, Alcee Hastings led the international OSCE observation mission of over 500 observers. His report mentioned “arbitrary use of state power and widespread detentions showed a disregard for the basic rights of freedom of assembly, association, and expression, and raised doubts regarding the authorities’ willingness to tolerate political competition.”

According to the SPARK analytical agency, among the top Belarussian companies in 2018, there were at least six enterprises owned by the State Property Committee. These enterprises include oil refineries, potassium and nitrogen companies, as well as mechanical engineering: Minsk Tractor Plant, “Grodno-Azot”, BMZ – management company of the “BMK” holding, “Belaruskali”, Belarussian Potash Company, and “Naftan”. Hastings’ letter doesn’t mention specific companies which the sanctions would target.