WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Sanctions were imposed on the Belarusian government for treatment of demonstrators after the Dec. 23 presidential election, the U.S. State Department said.
Disproportionate use of force and detention of demonstrators, charges being filed against five opposition presidential candidates, raids against media and political parties, the closure of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's office in Minsk and a flawed vote count represent "major steps backwards for the country," the U.S. State Department said Monday in a release.
"These actions oblige the United States and others in the international community to act" against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and his government, the statement said.
Among other things, the United States revoked the general license that temporarily authorized U.S. citizens to work with Lakokraska OAO and Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO, two blocked subsidiaries of Belarus's largest state-owned petroleum and chemical conglomerate.
The U.S. government also expanded the list of Belarusian officials subject to travel restrictions.
"We will enforce those restrictions to prevent the entry into the United States of individuals (and their family members) who are responsible for actions or policies related to the crackdown that began Dec. 19," the statement said.
U.S. officials also are working to impose financial sanctions against additional Belarusian individuals and entities. The department said criteria to be on the lists include participation in actions or policies undermining democratic processes or institutions, or being responsible for human rights abuses related to political repression.
The United States is coordinating its response to the crackdown in Belarus with the European Union and other partners, the statement said.