Belarus: US Congress will count the assets of Lukashenko's family and associates, and the EU is ready for economic sanctions

The US Congress approved the 2020 Bill of Belarusian Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty.

In addition to condemning violence, violations of human rights in Belarus and non-recognition of elections, the document contains a number of specific proposals.

For example, the Bill contains a clause stating that, no later than 90 days from the date of its entry into force, the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, must submit to the relevant committees of Congress a report on the total amount of assets under direct or indirect control of Lukashenko, including appraisal assets and known sources of income of Lukashenko and his immediate family, including assets, investments, bank accounts, etc.

In addition, identification of the most significant high-ranking foreign policy figures in Belarus, close to Lukashenko, will be carried out.

No later than 120 days from the entry into force of the 2020 Bill of Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, will submit to the relevant committees of Congress a report on the threat posed by the Russian government to the sovereignty and independence of Belarus.

The report should provide an assessment of how the Russian government is using the current political crisis in Belarus to advance deeper political and economic control of Belarus.

In addition, the report will provide:

• a description of economic and energy assets in Belarus that are controlled by Russia, including Russian companies owned or controlled by the state;

• a description of the main Belarusian enterprises that are vulnerable to takeovers by Russian companies amid the deepening financial crisis in the country;

• a description of how and why the Russian government is seeking to increase its military presence in Belarus;

• a description of Russian influence on the media and information space in Belarus and how the Russian government uses disinformation and other malicious methods to undermine Belarusian history, culture and language;

• a description of attempts to undermine the Belarusian language, as well as cultural and national symbols, including the traditional flag and coat of arms "Pursuit".

Also, the Congress intends to identify Russian citizens and state bodies that support or participate in the suppression of peaceful protesters and opposition, or participate in repressions against independent media after August 9, 2020.

The document emphasizes that on September 8, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said: “The United States, in coordination with our partners and allies, is considering additional targeted sanctions to increase the responsibility of those involved in human rights violations and repression in Belarus.”

The Bill states that the United States recognizes the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution for engaging in dialogue on a peaceful transition of power, and continues to work closely with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries and international organizations to advance the principles of democracy and the rule of law and human rights in Belarus.

"In order to achieve maximum impact, eliminate duplication and achieve goals, the Secretary of State ensures coordination with the European Union and its institutions, the governments of the EU countries, Great Britain and Canada," the document says.

The document also pays special attention to the support of independent media. No later than 120 days after the adoption of the Act, Congress awaits a comprehensive strategy, including cost estimates, to expand media support and support the development and use of anti-censorship and circumvention technologies, which will enable Belarusian citizens to communicate and operate on the Internet without government interference.

The document also contains a regulation on monitoring the cooperation of the Belarusian government with any foreign government related to censorship or Internet surveillance; controlling the purchase or receipt by the Government of Belarus of any technology for purposes related to censorship or surveillance on the Internet, including the evaluation of any such purchase or acquisition of information in the preceding ten years.

Meanwhile, Germany is discussing with the EU the possibility of introducing new sanctions against the Belarusian authorities. A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said: "It is possible that these measures could be directed against companies involved in human rights violations."

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on November 15 at a meeting with the ambassadors of Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Ireland and a representative of the Nordic Council called for "economic sanctions against state-owned enterprises and firms associated with Lukashenko."

In her telegram channel, she stated that the situation requires decisive action: the time has come for economic sanctions against state-owned enterprises and firms associated with Lukashenko, the suspension of financial development programs that go through the state, and stopping cooperation with state-owned banks - in particular, with Belarusbank and Belagroprombank.

A limitation on the purchase of oil products from Belarus and other products of state-owned enterprises was also discussed. All these measures are associated with a clear escalation of violence by the authorities.

It is expected that this week the EU countries will introduce a new package of individual sanctions and discuss the introduction of economic sanctions.



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