U.S., EU impose fresh sanctions on Belarusian leader Lukashenko

The European Union and the United States decided to restrict Belarusian President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko and his aides from entering their territories and also froze their assets in these regions.

The world powers adopted the measures to punish Lukashenko for his government's crackdown on the members of opposition parties after last year's fraudulent presidential elections.

One of the Belarus' largest government-owned companies will also face sanctions from Washington. Responding at the move, Belrus' Foreign Ministry vehemently criticized the decision and pledged a "proportionate and adequate" response.

Defending their sanctions, the EU and the U.S. said that they were forced to act since the government had not yet stopped its merciless campaign against its opponents, who demanded Lukashenko's resignation. They also held him responsible for transforming former Soviet republic Belarus into a dictatorship.

Following the December 19 polls, the government troops arrested more than 600 demonstrators, including nine presidential candidates - a move strongly criticized by international community.

To avoid sanctions, the western powers told the government to end the crackdown and release all jailed political prisoners. So far, Lukashenko freed only seven opposition leaders, leaving more than two dozens opposition leaders still in prison.

The government charges three former presidential candidates among others and if proved they may end up in prison for 15 years for their involvement in the protest. The U.S. first imposed sanctions on Belarus in 2006 and had no U.S. ambassador in the country since 2008.

The 27-nation European bloc also imposed similar sanctions in the same year but suspended them over Lukashenko's pledge to ease his authoritarian hold.


Partners: Social Network