US to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials

The United States is preparing a list of sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government following the forced landing of a passenger plane and subsequent arrest of a dissident journalist who was on board.

In a statement on Friday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki outlined the actions being prepared against the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

International criticism has been growing since Belarusian authorities forced a passenger plane flying in its airspace to land in its capital, Minsk, on Sunday. Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich was detained.

Psaki said the US will re-impose full blocking sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises on June 3.

She also said an executive order is being prepared that will give the US increased authorities to impose sanctions on members of the Lukashenko government, its support network, and those that support corruption, the abuse of human rights and attacks on democracy.

The statement calls on Lukashenko to allow a credible international investigation into the incident, immediately release all political prisoners, and to hold dialogue with the leaders of the democratic opposition.

Psaki says, "We take these measures, together with our partners and Allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to demonstrate our commitment to the aspirations of the people of Belarus."