US expands sanctions against Minsk
The House of Representatives of the United States has announced about news sanctions against Belarus.
A list of officials subject to visa sanctions was expanded and financial restrictions were imposed on the country’s political leaders and security service chiefs.
The US Senate earlier passed a bill proposing to expand sanctions against Belarus.
The Belarus Democracy Act was sent to the White House. US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, the US Helsinki Commission reports.
Christopher Smith, the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (US Helsinki Commission), introduced the bill in the US Senate ahead of the anniversary of crackdown on a demonstration on December 19, 2010.
Smith’s bill was passed by the House of Representative on July 6, 2011. The bill was amended and approved by unanimous consent on December 14. The debate on the bill was on December 19 and the final passage by voice vote came on December 20.
“This new law will send a powerful message to the Belarusian dictator. This law addresses the two indispensable tools of every dictator – security services and propaganda. It puts Lukashenka’s secret police on notice that we are paying attention to who they are and what they do. And it gathers information on how he is expanding his control over the Internet in Belarus. It also sends a signal to the Belarusian people – the United States government hasn’t forgotten what happened last December, and we stand in solidarity with them, not their oppressor Lukashenka and his henchmen.”
The Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act condemns the recent human rights violations, beatings, arrests of opposition activists and presidential candidates, election fraud, crackdown on independent media, ethnic and religious minorities in Belarus.
The US Congress insists on the immediate release without preconditions of all political prisoners in Belarus, supports the aspirations of the people of Belarus for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, supports the aspirations of the people of Belarus to preserve the independence and sovereignty of their country.
The Congress refuses to accept the results of the December 19, 2010, presidential election and supports calls for new presidential and parliamentary elections in compliance with OSCE standards. The Congress also continues to support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in Belarus, which empower the people of Belarus to end tyranny in their country.
The Congress supports the sanctions imposed on official Minsk, calls for a full accounting of the disappearances of opponents of Lukashenka and calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation to suspend its plan to hold the 2014 International World Ice Hockey championship in Minsk until the Government of Belarus releases all political prisoners.
The Congress supports the sanctions imposed on official Minsk, expands the list of persons banned from entering the US, imposes additional financial sanctions on a number of Belarusian state-run entities and initiates assets freeze of a number of Belarusians.