Russian Lawmakers Slam U.S. Sanctions against Belarus

Members of Russia's upper house of parliament slammed U.S. sanctions against Belarussian officials on Wednesday, calling the punitive measures "an echo of the Cold War".

The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday added Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and a number of other Belarussian officials to its list of persons whose assets in the United States would be frozen.

In May, the United States and the European Union imposed visa bans on some Belarussian officials including Lukashenko after he won a third term in the March election, which Western governments said was rigged.

The chairman of the Federation Council's CIS affairs committee, Vadim Gustov, deemed such policy "ridiculous" as the Belarussian leadership is in no way connected with the United States and hardly has financial assets there, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Vassily Likhachev, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee, was quoted as saying: "All kinds of declarations, sanctions, instructions against Belarus not only from the United States but also from Europe, smell of the Cold War times."

Russian officials said democracy in Belarus can be among the most sensitive issues to be discussed at a summit of Group of Eight leading industrialized nations due to be held in St. Petersburg next month.