US sanctions OMON, Central Election Commission, internal troops as ‘Belarusian regime actors’

On December 23, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated one individual and four entities for their roles in the fraudulent August 9, 2020, presidential election in Belarus and the subsequent violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests.

The Treasury targeted:

  • The Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on Elections and Holding Republican Referenda (Belarusian CEC) led by Chairwoman Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Deputy Chairperson Vadzim Ipatau, and Secretary Alena Dmukhayla, all three previously sanctioned, managed the fraudulent August 9 presidential election.
  • Perpetrators of violent crackdown, in particular, Henadz Kazakevich. According to the US side, as Deputy Minister of the Interior and Chief of the Criminal Police, he was responsible for the actions of the Criminal Police in their role of carrying out previously sanctioned Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s policy of violently cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Belarus.
  • The Minsk Special Purpose Police Unit (Minsk OMON), the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of the Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk GUVD), and KGB Alpha have been involved in the violent post-election crackdown on and suppression of peaceful protests in Minsk. The Minsk OMON leader Dzmitry Balaba was previously designated on October 2,

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the persons above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons,” the statement reads.

How will US elections affect Belarus?

As far back as June 2020, the United States extended sanctions against top Belarusian officials. Apart from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the blacklist included his eldest son Viktar Lukashenka, presidential aide for national security since 2005; Lidziya Yarmoshyna, CEC Chairperson 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.

In early October, the United States imposed sanctions on eight senior officers and election officials amid post-election protestsin Belarus.

On December 21, the US Senate approved the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020. The bill gives additional authority to the President of the United States to slap new sanctions in the wake of the stealing of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus and the brutal crackdown on the protesters. The Democracy Act is expected to restore personal economic and visa sanctions against an expanded group of Belarusian officials and a number of Russian citizens. The document will come into force only after it is signed by the President.

US Senate passes 2020 Belarus Democracy Act, following