U.S. Slams Belarus For ‘Politically Motivated’ Imprisonment Of Lukashenko Foes

After a court convicted two of the opponents to President Alexander Lukashenko, who declared victory in a highly criticized election last January with a decade-long sentence in prison, the United States and other European countries condemned Belarus's human rights practices.

Maria Kalesnikava is an opposition leader and poses in Minsk (Belarus) on August 3, 2020. Getty Images

The Key Facts

Important Quote

Blinken, Monday's Monday writer, said that these sentencings were yet another sign of the regime's complete disregard for the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the Belarusian people. Ms. Ms.


The United States placed new sanctions last month against a Belarusian company owned by the state, along with the National Olympic Committee of the country and several business executives and businesses that have close ties to Lukashenko. Canada and the United Kingdom also imposed sanctions against Belarus on the same day. This coordinated effort by the White House was tied to Lukashenko's August 2020 reelection.

What we don't know

It is unclear if Western criticism will influence Lukashenko. The president, sometimes called Europe's last dictator, has maintained a tight grip over Belarus for 27 years despite being subject to rounds of U.S. sanction since 2006 when he was elected in another race plagued by fraud allegations. Russia has also been closer to Lukashenko: Russian President Vladimir Putin felicitated Lukashenko for his contested win and lent billions to Belarus last year. He called him Russia's closest ally.

Important Background

Kalesnikava is a lawyer and musician by profession. They both gained attention in the aftermath of last summer's presidential elections. Lukashenko, who has been leading Belarus since 1994, claimed that he won by an 80% margin. This result has been criticized by many domestic and foreign critics as rigged. Kalesnikava supported Tsikhanouskayas campaign. Znak and Kalesnikava were later members the Coordination Council. This opposition group was formed after Belarus was overthrown by massive protests and police brutality. Kalesnikava and Znak were both arrested and sentenced to prison last year.

Surprising Fact

International scorn has been heaped on the Belarusian authorities for their attempts to detain opponents. After a military plane forced the Ryanair commercial aircraft to land in Belarus, authorities arrested a journalist. President Joe Biden described the government's actions as a shameful attack on political dissent and freedom of expression.