On the second anniversary of the presidential election in Belarus, we commend the Belarusian people who showed up in record numbers to cast their ballots, exercise their rights, and determine their own future. When it was clear the election had been stolen by the Lukashenka regime, the Belarusian people bravely took to the streets, with reports of hundreds of thousands of people amassing to peacefully demand free and fair elections and a democratic transition. The Belarusian people have demonstrated remarkable resilience in sustaining the pro-democracy movement for two years at great personal sacrifice. These calls for democracy are voiced by Belarusians exiled abroad, over 1,200 political prisoners unjustly detained inside the country, and countless ordinary Belarusian citizens.
Their peaceful calls for democracy have been met with unprecedented brute force and a consolidated crackdown by the Lukashenka regime. In response to the regime’s abuses and in support of the Belarusian people, we have taken numerous steps in the past two years, including expanding sanctions authorities and deploying significant sanctions actions against the Belarusian regime for its undemocratic and destabilizing behavior and human rights abuses, among other things.
Today we are announcing steps to impose visa restrictions on 100 regime officials and their affiliates for their involvement in undermining or injuring democratic institutions or impeding the transition to democracy in Belarus, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 8015. These individuals include those holding high-ranking positions in the Administration of the President, Ministry of Interior, State Security Committee (KGB), the Central Election Commission, the Prosecutor General’s Office, Central Office of the Investigative Committee, Ministry of Transport and Communication, Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK), the National State TV and Radio Company “Belteleradio,” the Second National Television Station, and the Air Force and Air Defense Forces. They also include members of Parliament, district judges, security officials, members of executive committees, and state university administrators. Individuals subject to the proclamation have been implicated in torture; violent arrests of peaceful protesters; raids of homes and offices of journalists, members of the opposition, and activists; coerced confessions; electoral fraud; politically motivated sentences of political prisoners; expulsion of students for participation in peaceful protests; passage of legislation impacting the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms; and acts of transnational repression.
Since the fraudulent 2020 election, the State Department has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on a total of 297 individuals under PP8015 for undermining democracy in Belarus.
In addition, the State Department is announcing the designations pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2022, of Mikalai Karpiankou, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Commander of the Internal Troops, and Dzmitriy Balaba, Commander of the Special Task Police Force (OMON) of the Minsk City Executive Committee of Internal Affairs, for involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters.
Balaba and Karpiankou played a significant role in the repression surrounding the fraudulent August 9, 2020 presidential election, in which thousands were violently detained and subjected to abuses for exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through peacefully protesting. Today’s action expands existing restrictions on Karpiankou and Balaba to include visa restrictions against their immediate family members, including Karpiankou’s wife Irina and adult son Igor, and Balaba’s wife Tatyana and adult sons Artem and Maksim, making them ineligible for entry into the United States.
The United States stands with the people of Belarus as they pursue a democratic, sovereign, and prosperous future. We will continue to promote accountability for the Lukashenka regime’s human rights abuses and support international efforts to document abuses and hold perpetrators to account.