The regime of authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has responded to the latest round of US sanctions by asking Washington to cut staff at its embassy in Minsk to five by September 1.
Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatol Hlaz said in an interview which was placed on the Foreign Ministry website on August 11, Minsk also revoked her consent to the appointment of Julie Fisher as US ambassador to Belarus.
“In view of the fact that Belarus has lost confidence in the current US administration, we are suspending cooperation in all new projects, grants and programs coordinated by the US government until that trust returns,” Hlaz said, adding that Minsk reserves the right to introduce additional measures in the future.
Hlaz’s interview came after the United States, Britain and Canada announced new trade and financial sanctions against Belarus on August 9, the first anniversary of the presidential election that extended decades of rule. of Lukashenka and triggered a unprecedented wave protests amid allegations the vote was rigged.
Lukashenka, in power since 1994, reacted to the protests by unleashing a brutal crackdown. More than 32,000 people have been arrested, thousands beaten by police in the streets and in detention, with allegations of torture in many cases. Opposition leaders have been locked up or forced to flee.
In response, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Britain and other countries hit Lukashenka, his entourage and Belarusian companies with several series of sanctions, leaving the Belarusian strongman internationally isolated, more dependent than ever on Russian support.