U.S. "deeply regrets" trial of protesters in Belarus: spokesman

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Thursday that the United States "deeply regrets " the trial of anti-government protesters detained after last year 's presidential election in Belarus.

"The United States deeply regrets that the government of Belarus has begun the first trial of those detained for their involvement in the Dec. 19 protest," said Toner, referring to the protests following the country's presidential election last December.

He reiterated the U.S. call for "the immediate unconditional release" of all detainees.

Toner described these trials as "clearly another negative step" on the part of the Belarusian government.

On Jan. 31, the United States slapped new sanctions on Belarus, including revoking the general license that had temporarily authorized U.S. persons to engage in transactions with two subsidiaries of Belarus' largest state-owned petroleum and chemical conglomerate Belneftekhim, in a bid to punish the so- called "brutal crackdown" in the wake of the presidential election.

In response, Belarus condemned the sanctions, saying they were futile. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry called the measures " unreasonable and unjustified," which might again trigger tension and mistrust in developing bilateral relations.


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