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Canada Announces Belarus Sanctions As Opposition Leader Visits

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Canada announced Tuesday new sanctions against pro-Kremlin officials in Belarus, as visiting opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was set to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to boost support for her countrymen standing against Russia.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime of “letting its territory serve as a launching pad for Russia’s egregious attacks against Ukraine.”

By doing so, she said in a statement, it is “enabling the Russian regime’s human rights violations in places such as Bucha, Izium and Mariupol and contributing to the pain and suffering of millions around the globe that has resulted from President Putin’s weaponization of food and energy.”

At a news conference with Tikhanovskaya, Joly added that she was also concerned about “gross human rights violations in Belarus.”

The 22 Belarusian officials and 15 companies across the military manufacturing, technology, engineering, banking and rail sectors added to Canada’s sanctions list bring the total since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February to more than 100 individuals and entities.

Moscow has used Belarus as a key launchpad for its war on neighboring Ukraine and is deploying thousands of troops to its close ally as part of a joint task force announced last month, fueling fears that Minsk could be gearing up to send its troops into Ukraine.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, Tikhanovskaya said: “I will ask Canada to consider imposing individual sanctions against state propagandists, military officials, employees of (the) KGB secret services, and pro-regime businesses,” whom she accused of “fueling repressions and Putin’s war machine.”

She also said she would seek more aid for Belarusian civil society, including independent journalists, and political prisoners — who number at least 1,400 — and their families.

She suggested that while the West has mostly focused on the conflict in Ukraine, the fates of Belarus and Ukraine are “intertwined.”

“Today the very existence of Belarus is under threat,” she said. “I will ask Canada to stay aligned with the European Union, US and UK and develop a joint strategy on Belarus. We must prevent Belarus from being absorbed by Russia.”

Tikhanovskaya lives in exile after fleeing abroad in the face of long- time leader Lukashenko’s brutal crackdown, which he launched when he claimed victory over her at 2020 elections which the West says were stolen.

Over the weekend, she met with Canada’s defense minister, Anita Anand, to request equipment for an estimated 500 Belarusian soldiers fighting in Ukraine against Russia.

“They need first aid kits, warm clothing, simple stuff that will help them to survive the coming winter,” she said.

Tikhanovskaya also noted that Belarusians sabotaged railways used by Russia to move equipment and troops early in the conflict and have kept Kyiv informed about Russian deployments in their country.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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