Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Non-profit Group Urges UK Parliament to Expand List of Sanctioned Companies and Individuals in Belarus

Belarusians in exile

"Belarusians in exile", a non-profit organization uniting Belarusians and their families who were forced to leave the Republic of Belarus because of systematic violations of human rights, and the risk of persecution for their political views, appealed to the UK Parliament, urging it to expand the list of sanctioned companies and individuals in Belarus as the only effective way of encouraging the development of democracy in that country.

The letter to British MPs states: "Britain is one of the largest trade partners of Belarus. In 2010 the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $1.2 billion and the UK was Belarus' eighth largest trade partner. Despite Council Decision 2011/357/CFSP and Council Regulation (EU) No 588/2011 and the Belarus (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2012 imposed by the UK Parliament, Britain's imports are continuing to finance the Lukashenka regime.

EU countries predominantly import oil products and potash fertilizers from Belarus. Most of the funds received by Belarusian companies exporting oil and potash to the UK and other EU countries are directed to the government to support the dictatorial regime of Alexander Lukashenka. Sanctioning the companies and the people heading Belarusian businesses in this sphere must therefore be a top priority for an effective program of sanctions that encourages positive change."

Jamison Firestone, the human rights lawyer advising the group, says: "A recent decision by European Council requires companies and individuals who have been identified by the EU Council as supporting the Lukashenka regime to be added to the asset freeze list and visa ban list. However, neither the Council nor the UK have updated their sanction lists since the law was expanded. Therefore the companies which are most responsible for financially supporting the regime and the individuals running them continue to escape sanctions. We have identified key companies that are providing significant financial support to the Lukashenka regime and request the U.K. Parliament to add these companies and their General Managers to the sanctions list."

Among the companies and individuals included in the list are Belarusian Oil Company (the principal exporter of oil products from Belarus); Belarusian Oil Trade House (subject to sanctions imposed by the USA); Belarusian Potash Company (world's largest exporter of potash); Belaruskali (one of the world's largest producers of potash fertilizer owned by the government of Belarus under Belneftekhim which is sanctioned by the USA).

The list of companies and individuals as well as full letter to the U.K. Parliament, is available on the group's website,  

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