The UK government has imposed more sanctions on Belarus over alleged human rights abuses.
Alongside the United States, Canada and the European Union, Britain has on Thursday issued fresh penalties against eight Belarusian individuals “responsible for repression and human rights violations”.
An asset freeze has also been placed on one of the world’s largest potash fertiliser producers, OJSC Belaruskali.
It is the fifth round of sanctions the UK government has placed on Belarus, targeting Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
Belarus’s authoritarian leader has been in power since 1994, but his re-election as president in 2020 was not recognised by the EU and has been widely discredited by others.
Most recently, Mr Lukashenko has been accused by the EU of luring migrants to the border with the false promise of access into the bloc.
Mr Lukashenko has denied this is the case.
The UK government says the Lukashenko regime has shown “continue disregard for international law”.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sanctions “continue to target important -s of revenue to the Lukashenko regime and place severe restrictions on those responsible for some of the worst anti-democratic acts in Belarus”.
She said: “The UK believes in free speech, a free press and freedom of association. We will not look away while members of the opposition, journalists and activists continue to be beaten, jailed and killed, or forced into exile.”
Ms Truss added: “The UK and our allies will always stand for the rule of law and hold to account those who undermine freedom, democracy and human rights.”
The UK government has already imposed sanctions on more than 100 people and organisations in Belarus in response to “fraudulent elections” and “the litany of abhorrent acts and human rights violations that the Lukashenko regime continues to commit”.
The new penalties include asset freezes and travel bans on five propagandists who played a key part in the spread of disinformation in Belarus, and a senior Belarusian official responsible for the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in the country, according to ministers.
A judge and assistant prosecutor, who are responsible for numerous politically-motivated rulings against journalists, activists and protesters, also face sanctions, the ministers added.
They claimed that the measures “represent a significant additional step in bringing pressure to bear on the Lukashenko regime”.