Six Top Belarus Officials Face U.S. Government Sanctions


The Bush administration imposed financial sanctions on another six members of the Belarus government on Tuesday to step up pressure over what it calls a fraudulent presidential election last March, Reuters news agency reported February 28.

The prosecutor general, Petr Petrovich Miklashevich, the lieutenant colonel of special riot police in Minsk, Yuri Nikolaevich Podobed, the ministers of education and information, a former interior minister and the head of the public associations department are in the list.

The executive order, announced by the U.S. Treasury Department, follows sanctions in June 2006 against President Alexander Lukashenko and nine other top government officials.

Lukashenko, now in his 13th year as leader of the former Soviet republic, was re-elected in March 2006 in a ballot that Western governments denounced as rigged.

The order prohibits Americans from doing business with the six officials and freezes any assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

"Those who commit human rights abuses and political repression have no place in civil society," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"We will continue to target Belarusian officials who abuse their positions to steal from their people and to suppress democracy and freedom," he added.

The European Union demanded last November that Lukashenko accept 12 conditions before dialogue could resume, including holding free elections, releasing political prisoners and allowing freedom of expression.