The United States said on Monday reimposed sanctions on nine state-owned companies in Belarus for human rights violations by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.
The administration of President Joe Biden warned that it would go ahead with the sanctions unless Belarus releases prisoners and on Monday, it gave the green light.
“This action is a further consequence of the Belarusian authorities’ flagrant disregard for human rights and Belarus’ failure to comply with its obligations under international human rights law,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The United States calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those unjustly detained or imprisoned,” he added.
The Treasury Department said that companies will have to wind up transactions with the Belarusian firms by June 3 or face US penalties.
Lukashenko earlier said that the Russian authorities had “derailed a plot to overthrow the government,” a claim that the opposition denounced as a provocation that could be used to hold back the dissent further.