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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Lukashenko. Photo: Siarhei Leskiec/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. and Canada on Tuesday announced they would impose sanctions on Belarus dictator Aleksander Lukashenko and members of his government for violence against protesters in the wake of August's rigged election.

Why it matters: The sanctions against the Belarus strongman represent the first major penalties enacted by Western powers since a post-election crackdown in which Lukashenko's security forces have brutalized protesters and detained major opposition figures.

The state of play: The U.S., U.K., Canada and the European Union no longer recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus, but he has continued to cling to power throughout 50 straight days of protests with the help of Russia.

The big picture: The sanctions fall under British and Canadian laws crafted in the model of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which targets alleged human rights abusers by freezing their assets and imposing visa bans.

  • The EU plans to introduce its own Magnitsky Act and sought last week to pass sanctions against Belarus, but failed after Cyprus, one of the bloc's smallest member states, objected due to an unrelated matter.
  • The Trump administration signaled earlier this month that it would also impose targeted sanctions on Belarusians responsible for election violence.

What they're saying:

  • U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: "Today the UK and Canada have sent a clear message by imposing sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko’s violent and fraudulent regime. We don’t accept the results of this rigged election. We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights."
  • Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne: "Canada will not stand by silently as the Government of Belarus continues to commit systematic human rights violations and shows no indication of being genuinely committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups."

Go deeper: The EU may soon get its own Magnitsky Act to target human rights abusers

Go deeper

Oct 8, 2020 - World

U.S. places massive sanctions on Iranian financial sector

A handout image from the Iran International Photo Agency shows a view of the reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Photo: IIPA via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday imposed a sweeping set of sanctions on 18 major Iranian banks in a move that could blow apart the international remnants of the country's 2015 nuclear deal.

Why it matters: "The move all but severs Iran from the global financial system, slashing the few remaining legal links it has and making it more dependent on informal or illicit trade," per Bloomberg.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

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