UK preparing Magnitsky sanctions over Belarus human rights violations - minister

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Britain's Foreign Affairs Secretary Dominic Raab is seen outside Downing Street in London
Britain's Foreign Affairs Secretary Dominic Raab is seen outside Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is preparing Magnitsky sanctions against individuals in Belarus in coordination with the United States and Canada, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday, after pointedly criticising the country's recent election.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in for a sixth term after an election that the opposition and several foreign governments say was rigged.

"Given Lukashenko's fraudulent inauguration, I have directed the FCDO (foreign office) sanctions team to prepare Magnitsky sanctions for those responsible for the serious human rights violations," Raab told parliament.

"We are coordinating with the United States and Canada to prepare appropriate listings as a matter of urgency."

Raab said the "whole range of potential individuals" was under considerations for sanctions, but did not give any names.

Britain had been prepared to work with the European Union on coordinated sanctions, but the bloc's plans have been blocked by member state Cyprus.

In July, Britain, having left the European Union, imposed its own sanction regime to place sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis, aimed at stopping the laundering of "blood money".

The so-called Magnitsky sanctions are named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who was arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud. Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.

(Reporting by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper, writing by William James, editing by Estelle Shirbon)