By Samuel Rubenfeld
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is seeking new sanctions against Belarus for its crackdown on opposition party members after an election international observers said was marred by fraud.
According to a report by Michael Crittenden of Dow Jones Newswires, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee said he wants to review sanctions against the former Soviet republic, and may introduce legislation addressing the issue. Issuing a memo to committee members on Feb. 2, Johnson said any legislation "could include expanding current travel restrictions, the existing asset freeze against Belarusian officials, as well as other sanctions."
News of the memo comes a week after the U.S. expanded its list of Belorussian officials sanctioned under current legislation, following the lead of the E.U., which posted sanctions about two weeks ago.
After the December election, Belarusian police arrested scores of protesters, including seven of Lukashenko's rival candidates. U.S. officials have strongly condemned the crackdown.
Separately, the memo also said the committee plans to continue oversight of State and Treasury Department rulemaking, implementation and enforcement of Iran sanctions. It also "may want" to assess current federal anti-money laundering efforts, including oversight of "the current state of terrorist financing countermeasures a decade after 9/11."