Canada imposed new sanctions on Belarus on Tuesday over its dire human rights record and support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, even as the country’s exiled opposition leader called for more support for pro-democracy activists and others.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced sanctions against 22 Belarusian officials and 16 companies while hosting Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was in Ottawa for a meeting with members of the government and parliament.
“Our goal is really to eliminate the possibility of impunity, and we put maximum pressure on these Belarusian individuals and legal entities,” Joly said during a brief speech with Tikhanovskaya on Parliament Hill.
According to the government, those sanctioned include those involved in housing and transporting Russian military personnel and equipment. The list also includes companies in the military production, technology, engineering, banking and railway sectors.
Tikhanovskaya thanked Canada for its support in increasing economic and political pressure on the Belarusian regime led by President Alexander Lukashenko, but also asked for more.
“We need to give energy to people,” she said. “Do not let people get tired, do not let people forget. That is why we are asking for more help for our civil society, our media, human rights programs.”
Belarus is a former Soviet state in Eastern Europe that has been ruled for almost 20 years by Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His regime is accused of gross violations of human rights and authoritarianism.
Tikhanovskaya ran against Lukashenka in the August 2020 elections. Lukashenko claimed victory, but Canada, along with the European Union and the United States, refused to acknowledge the results amid widespread allegations of fraud, intimidation and voter suppression.
Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania after the vote under official pressure, and the government launched a widespread crackdown on the protests, arresting more than 35,000 people.
More recently, Belarus has played a key role in Russia’s war in Ukraine, serving as a launching pad for Russian troops.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 22, 2022.
With Associated Press files.
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