Treasury Department says officials are undermining Belarusian democracy
By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer
Washington -- The U.S. Treasury Department has taken action against an additional six Belarusian government officials over their involvement in human rights abuses and political repression taking place under the regime of President Alexander Lukashenka.
According to a February 27 statement, the designation freezes assets of the six officials in the United States and prohibits U.S. citizens from transacting or doing business with them.
The "actions and policies" of the six "undermine Belarus' democratic processes and institutions, manifested most recently in the fundamentally undemocratic March 2006 elections," the Treasury statement said.
Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said, "Those who commit human rights abuses and political repression have no place in civil society."
The six named in the statement are: Petr Petrovich Miklashevich, prosecutor general; Yuri Nikolaevich Podobed, lieutenant colonel of the Special Riot Police in Minsk; Aleksandr Mikhailovich Radkov, minister of education; Vladimir Vasilyevich Rusakevich, minister of information; Yury Sivakov, former minister of the interior and former minister of sport and tourism; and Oleg Leonidovich Slizhevsky, head of the Public Associations Department.
The United States took similar action against 10 other individuals, including President Lukashenka, in July 2006. (See related article.)
"We will continue to target Belarusian officials who abuse their positions to steal from their people and to suppress democracy and freedom," Szubin said.
The European Union also has imposed a travel ban against the individuals and has frozen their assets, charging them with playing a role in the Mach 19, 2006, presidential elections that violated international electoral standards, as well as the ensuing crackdown against the country's democratic opposition.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said February 28 that the Bush administration has been "very forthright" in its public statements concerning the importance of political freedoms in Belarus, and the need for the country to have "free and open discussion about politics" and room for differing points of view.
"Sadly, that is just not the case in Belarus," McCormack said.
The full text of the Treasury press release is available on the department's Web site.
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