US slaps sanctions on Belarus in response to violent crackdown after December election

WASHINGTON - The United States is banning business with two subsidiaries of Belarus' state-owned petroleum conglomerate. The move is in response to President Alexander Lukashenko's violent crackdown after last month's elections.

The U.S. also expanded its list of Belarus officials subject to travel restrictions. A State Department statement called on Belarus' government to release detainees and allow freedom of speech.

Monday's announcement came after the European Union said it would impose an asset freeze and visa ban on 156 top Belarus officials in the wake of last month's flawed elections.

Under Lukashenko, Belarus has retained a Soviet-style state-controlled economy while also repressing opposition activists and independent news media. He was declared the winner of the December election with nearly 80 per cent of the vote, but international observers strongly criticized the count.


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