Britain and Canada have banned travel and frozen assets of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his son and other senior officials over allegations that their governments rigged elections and used violence against protesters.

Tuesday’s sanctions are the first to be imposed by major Western powers over the crisis in Belarus, a close ally of Russia.

More than 12,000 people have been arrested in mass demonstrations since Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years, was declared the winner in the August 9 presidential election, which his opponents said had been rigged. Lukashenko denies election fraud.

Hundreds of thousands storm the streets of Minsk to demand Lukashenko steps down

British Foreign Secretary Dominique Raab said the sanctions were part of a coordinated approach with Canada to uphold democratic values ​​and pressure those responsible for oppression.

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Raab called Lukashenko’s government cruel and fraudulent and said the sanctions should send a clear message that they do not accept fraudulent election results.

Britain’s actions include a travel ban and a freeze on assets of eight Belarusian government officials, including Lukashenko, his son Victor Lukashenko and Igor Sergeenko, head of the presidential administration. Canada’s list includes Lukashenko and 10 others.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada and Britain were acting together to ensure sanctions had a bigger impact.

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