On October 24, the U.S. Department of Treasury extended sanctions relief for nine Belarusian companies for another six months. The property of these enterprises remains locked, but the transactions are allowed.
U.S. citizens are typically prohibited from dealing with a sanctioned individual or company.
The decision will be valid until April 30, 2018 unless it is extended or canceled.
The decision extends to the companies Belarusian Oil Trade House, Belneftekhim and its affiliate Belneftekhim USA, Inc., Belshina OAO, Grodno Azot OAO, Grodno Khimvolokno OAO, Lakokraska OAO, Naftan OAO, Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO, Belorusneft.
The relief was Washington’s response to a political thaw in Belarus in 2015, i.e. the release of political prisoners and the presidential elections held within sensible bounds.
In consequence of the relief, the mentioned enterprisess can deal with American businesses, although there are some restrictions. If the contract value exceeds $50,000, the sides must make the U.S. Department of State aware of it within 30 days.
However, in June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump extended national emergency regime with respect to Belarus for one more year. The national emergency with regard to Belarus was first introduced by the then U.S. President George Bush on June 16, 2006.
“The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine democratic processes or institutions of Belarus, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, and to engage in public corruption continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” the statement says.
The sanctions ban the blacklisted persons from entering the U.S. and freeze their assets in U.S.banks; prohibit U.S. companies from doing business with them. Apart from Mr Lukashenka, the US sanctions target his eldest son Viktar, presidential aide for national security since 2005; Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the central election commission since 1996; Viktar Sheyman, the then state secretary of the Security Council who is currently special presidential aide; Dzmitry Paulichenka, the then chief of the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) of the interior ministry, etc.