EU, U.S. impose sanctions on Belarus

The European Union and the United States on Monday announced the introduction of new travel and financial sanctions on Belarus in response to December's flawed elections and a brutal clampdown on opposition leaders and protesters.

EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton on Monday reinstated that the European Union imposes an asset freeze and visa ban on 158 top Belarus officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko.

The U. S. sanctions expand the number of Belarus officials covered by travel and financial restrictions and revokes temporary authorization for business deals with a range of companies, a statement by the U.S. State Department said.

More than 600 protesters including eleven Russians were detained following the protests sparked after Lukashenko won a landslide to secure a fourth term in office.

The West has called on Lukashenko, once dubbed by the United States "Europe's last dictator," to release all opposition presidential candidates and their supporters, but the president has said he is not afraid of sanctions.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has already promised to take measures in response to the EU sanctions.

"The EU Council's decision forces Belarus to take proportional and adequate measures aiming to strengthen the Belarusian sovereignty, maintain stability and consolidate Belarusian society," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said.

Savinykh accused EU officials of deliberate concealment of aggression and violence by Belarusian protesters, who attempted to seize the headquarters of the country's parliament and government.

WASHINGTON, January 31 (RIA Novosti)


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