Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus President Dmitry Baskov has been banned from entering Latvia, with the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs saying the country will expand the list of individuals sanctioned for violently suppressing peaceful protests.
Baskov was named Acting Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus President in August, before being permanently elected in September.
His elevation to the role came after Gennady Savilov has resigned as President, citing disagreements with Board members.
Savilov’s departure came amid increased uncertainty over whether Belarus will co-host next year's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship with Latvia.
The co-hosting appears in further doubt following the sanctioning of Baskov.
Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs confirmed on Twitter that Baskov and Belarusian kickboxer Dmitry Shakuta have been banned from entering the country.
"Based on Section 61, Paragraph 2 of the Immigration Law, I have made a decision regarding the inclusion of two Belarusian citizens in the list of persons undesirable to the Republic of Latvia, establishing a ban on entering Latvia for an indefinite period of time.
"Quoting the classic: "We don't need hockey like that!"
"Together with Lithuania and Estonia, we will soon expand the "blacklists" to include those who continue to violently suppress peaceful protests in Belarus."
According to the Belarusian website Tribuna, Baskov and Shakuta are reportedly considered as suspects in an attack on Raman Bandarenka.
Bandarenka died in hospital on November 12 after several hours of surgery.
Pamatojoties uz Imigrācijas likuma 61.panta 2.daļu, esmu pieņēmis lēmumu par divu Baltkrievijas pilsoņu iekļaušanu Latvijas Republikai nevēlamo personu sarakstā, nosakot liegumu ieceļot Latvijā uz nenoteiktu laiku. Citējot klasiķi: “Tādu hokeju mums nevajag!” pic.twitter.com/gxsq1XtkLr— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) November 16, 2020
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano described the 31-year-old’s death as an "outrageous and shameful result of the actions by the Belarusian authorities."
Stano said the authorities "have not only directly and violently carried out repression of their own population, but also created an environment whereby such lawless, violent acts can take place, thus ignoring not only the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Belarusian people but also disregarding their lives.
"The European Union expresses its deepest condolences to Mr Bandarenka’s family and friends.
"The EU stands in solidarity with all the Belarusians who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the Belarusian authorities in the aftermath of the August 9 falsified Presidential elections.
"The EU continues to strongly condemn violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, persons engaged in the pro-democracy movement, independent media, representatives of civil society or ordinary Belarusian citizens.
"We expect the authorities to end the violence and persecution, to release immediately and unconditionally all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, and to investigate fully and transparently all human rights violations and abuses, and hold those responsible to account.
"The European Union has already imposed sanctions on 55 individuals responsible for violent repression and intimidation, and stands ready to impose additional sanctions."
Rinkēvičs had met with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Friday (November 13).
The Latvian Foreign Minister said the country has "unwavering support for the people of Belarus, and underlined that the Belarusian civil society has the key role to play in deciding the future of its country."
Rinkēvičs pledged that Latvia will continue its sanctions policy against the Belarusian officials who are responsible for unjustified violence and repression on the part of law enforcement authorities and for falsifying election results.
He agreed with Tikhanovskaya – who has fled Belarus since the controversial August election – that new Presidential elections that are fair and free are required and should take place in the presence of international observers.
Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko, who supposedly won the election with 80 per cent of the vote, is among the officials already sanctioned by Latvia and the European Union.
Rinkēvičs announcement regarding Baskov’s sanction comes on the day the IIHF is scheduled to review a report by its Expert Group on preparations for the World Championship.
The Expert Group was commissioned to produce a report by the IIHF Council in September.
The group was asked to "work out a clear picture of the situation with the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship."
A decision could reportedly be made on Wednesday (November 18).
The 16-team competition is currently scheduled to run from May 21 to June 6 next year.
Belarus is scheduled to stage matches in 2021 at Minsk Arena, with Latvia planning to use Arena Riga.
Both semi-finals and the medal matches are due to be held in Minsk, which was the sole host of the 2014 Men's World Championship.