“Canada will not stand idly by as the Belarusian government continues to commit systematic human rights violations and shows no sign of being truly committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups,” Champagne said.
“Canada and the UK are acting together to ensure that these sanctions have a greater impact and to demonstrate unity in our condemnation of the situation. Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus as they fight to restore human rights and bring democracy to their country.
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Those on the sanctions list are Lukashenko and his son, as well as the country’s Minister of Internal Affairs and the chair of its electoral commission, among other senior officials.
The sanctions come after the UK also announced last week that it plans to impose similar sanctions against Belarusian officials and that the European Union is preparing to do the same.
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The Canadian government says the move comes in response to “a systematic campaign of state-sponsored repression and violence” by the Belarusian government.
The country has been plagued by protests in recent weeks after a contested election, which Lukashenko said returned him to power after 26 years of control.
Lukashenko, who is backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has denied election fraud, but his government’s brutal crackdown on opposition leaders and protesters has led tens of thousands to take to the streets for s ‘oppose his regime.
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As Reuters has reported, Belarus is a close ally of Russia and Putin considers keeping friendly rulers in power a key part of his defense policy when it comes to dealing with Europe.
Russia hinted at the potential for direct intervention against protesters on the ground in Belarus last week, with the country now offering a “reserve police force” to Belarusian forces.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former teacher and Lukashenko’s main political rival in the disputed August 9 elections, fled the country to Lithuania following the initial crackdown on protests.
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