On August 9, 2023, exactly three-years after Belarus’ fraudulent 2020 presidential election, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 8 individuals and 5 entities for their involvement in the regime’s continued repression of civil society, its ongoing support for Russia’s war with Ukraine, and the enrichment of Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka. OFAC also identified an aircraft, the EW-301PJ, as blocked property that has allegedly been used to transport high-ranking officials of the Lukashenka regime and Lukashenka’s family members.
The newly designated entities include Belarus’ Department of Financial Investigation of The State Control Committee of the Republic of Belarus (“DFR”), a sister agency of Belarus’ Financial Intelligence Unit. OFAC designated the DFR, and 4 individuals affiliated with the DFR, for their alleged roles in a politically-motivated raid of an independent online news site and the homes of its employees. The DFR also launched a probe into the news site that some human rights advocates denounced as an attempt to suppress Belarus’ pro-democracy movement and free media. Several revenue generating state-owned enterprises were also sanctioned, including BELAVIA airlines, the state-owned flagship carrier of Belarus that was previously designated by the EU in 2021, and the Joint Stock Company Byelorussian Steel Works Management Company of Holding Byelorussian Metallurgical Company (“BSW”) that was recently designated by the EU on August 3, 2023. OFAC also designated three family members of Belarusian businessman Aliaksey Ivanavich Aleksin who was designated by the US in 2021 for being a close confidant of Lukashenka.
These designations were made pursuant to EO 14038 for being a leader or official in the Government of Belarus (“GoB”); operating in the tobacco products and transportation sectors of the Belarus economy; or being owned or controlled by the GoB. As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of these designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving designated persons. In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.
OFAC also issued General License 8 and 9 pursuant to Belarus Sanctions Regulation, 31 CFR part 548. General license 8 temporarily authorizes wind down transactions involving BSW or entities in which BSW owns a 50 percent or greater interest, including Bel-Kap-Steel LLC. These transactions are authorized until October 9, 2023 as long as payments made to a BSW entity are made into blocked accounts in accordance with the BSR. General License 9 temporarily authorizes certain activities, including the provision, exportation, or reexportation of goods, technology, or services, involving BELAVIA airlines or entities in which BELAVIA owns a 50 percent or greater interest. These activities are authorized until September 8, 2023 provided that they are used on aircraft operated solely for civil aviation purposes.