London [UK], September 24 (ANI/Sputnik): UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on Thursday that the UK government was preparing to impose sanctions against Belarus, based on the alleged human rights violations committed by President Alexander Lukashenko's government.
"I have directed the FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] sanctions team to prepare Magnitsky sanctions for those responsible for the serious human rights violations [in Belarus]," Raab said in a statement in Parliament.
The UK foreign minister said his decision to apply sanctions had been triggered by the European Union's delay in imposing "targeted sanctions" against those responsible for the violence and repression of the Belarusian people, and Lukashenko's "fraudulent" inauguration on Wednesday.
"The UK, the West and the world cannot just sit idle by while the Belarusian people's democratic and human rights are violated so brutally in clear violation of Belarus' responsibilities as a member of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe]," he stressed.
Raab also said that the UK was coordinating with the United States and Canada to prepare "appropriate listings" of the Belarusian officials to be sanctioned under the so-called Magnitsky act.
Sergei Magnitsky was a lawyer in the London-based Hermitage Capital Management hedge fund. He was arrested in Moscow in 2008 on tax evasion charges and later died of heart failure while in prison. An official investigation into his death was closed due to a lack of criminal evidence.
In late 2012, the United States adopted the so-called Magnitsky Act, which imposes travel bans and financial sanctions on Russian officials and other individuals believed to have been involved in Magnistky's death as well as in the case against him and related issues.
In 2015, the US Senate adopted the so-called Global Magnitsky Act, which expands Russia-specific sanctions to other countries.
"We will apply all the tools at our disposal to Lukashenko and his regime to account and we call on him to engage in serious and credible dialogue with the opposition," Raab told the UK Parliament.
The foreign secretary said that the UK government had already doubled up its financial support to human rights groups, independent media organizations and community groups in Belarus, providing an extra £1.5 million ($1.9 million) over the next two years. The funds include £800,000 ($1 million) of support for journalists in particular.
Presidential elections were held in Belarus on August 9, and, according to the Central Election Commission, were won by Lukashenko, who gained 80.1 percent of the vote. The Belarusian opposition, however, claimed that ex-Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, not Lukashenko, had won.
In line with the law, the inauguration of the president-elect must take place within two months from the date of the election. (ANI/Sputnik)