Protests Spread as US Decides on Sanctions

White House says it's holding the Belarus government accountable after hijacking
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2021 5:00 PM CDT
Updated May 29, 2021 5:25 PM CDT
Protests Spread as US Decides on Sanctions
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya holds a portrait of her jailed husband, Syarhey Tsikhanousky, at a protest demanding freedom for political prisoners Saturday in Vilnius, Lithuania.   (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Demonstrations around the world opposed the Belarus government on Saturday—sparked by the hijacking of an airliner last week—a day after the Biden administration said it's imposing economic sanctions. A White House spokeswoman said the US will restore sanctions next week against nine state-owned operations in Belarus that had been lifted by the Treasury Department, the New York Times reports. The US also is putting a halt to the nations' agreement letting the other travel through its airspace, per NBC. And government officials also will face sanctions, Jen Psaki said. She didn't identify the officials but said they're "associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election and the events of May 23," when the plane forced to land in Minsk. The sanctions "will hold the regime accountable," Psaki said.

Protests in neighboring Poland and Lithuania demanded the release of Roman Pratasevich, a dissident who was taken into custody at the airport, and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega. In Warsaw, his mother asked the US and EU to help get her son freed. "We want to live in a free country, in a country where everyone has the right to express his beliefs," his father said. Demonstrations against the actions of President Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed to have been reelected in a landslide last fall, also were held in the US, Australia, and dozens of other countries, per the BBC. "I believe that there will be changes very soon, there will be new elections, because there can be no other way," opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said at a rally in Lithuania, where she's living in exile. "Belarus will not give up." (More Belarus stories.)

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