On June 21, 2021, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 16 individuals and five entities in response to the Lukashenko regime’s escalating violence and repression. The persons are all closely associated with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and, according to an OFAC press statement, “have harmed the people of Belarus through their activities surrounding the fraudulent August 9, 2020, presidential election in Belarus and the ensuing brutal crackdown on protesters, journalists, members of the opposition, and civil society.” Similarly, the entities are Belarusian government agencies or committees that have relied upon violence against peaceful protesters and that have detained journalists attempting to cover such protests. “The United States and its partners will not tolerate continued attacks on democracy and the ceaseless repression of independent voices in Belarus,” said OFAC Director Andrea Gacki.
As a result of being placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, all property and interests in property of these persons and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Further, any entities that are owned 50% or more by them, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must similarly be blocked and reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of these designated persons is generally prohibited. Similar sanctions actions were also taken by Canada, the European Union (EU), and the United Kingdom (UK).
OFAC Belarus General License No. 3
While implementing these sanctions, OFAC also issued General License No. 3 under the Belarus sanctions which authorizes certain transactions with the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (the “Belarusian KGB”). This general license authorizes transactions and activities that ‘are necessary and ordinarily incident’ to:
- Requesting, receiving, utilizing, paying for, or dealing in licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications issued or registered by the Belarusian KGB for the importation, distribution, or use of information technology products in Belarus, provided that (i) the exportation, reexportation, or provision of any goods or technology are licensed or authorized by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS); and (ii) the payment of any fees for such licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications does not exceed $5,000 in any calendar year;
- Complying with law enforcement or administrative actions or investigations involving the Belarusian KGB; and,
- Complying with rules and regulations administered by the Belarusian KGB.