US blocks assets of Belarus Prez, prohibits business with him

Washington, June 20: The United States moved today to clamp down financially on Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko as well as other government officials.

The Treasury Department added Lukashenko to its list of specially designated nationals, meaning that any assets belonging to Lukashenko found in the US must be blocked and Americans are forbidden from doing business with him.

Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, is often branded by western countries as "Europe's last dictator." He won a third term in March 19 elections deemed fraudulent by western governments.

After the election, the White House said it would enact targeted travel restrictions and financial sanctions against Lukashenko. US officials said Lukashenko's victory resulted from election fraud and human rights abuses.

In February, the Bush administration linked Lukashenko's government to the murders of a pro-democracy businessman and an independent journalist.

Other Belarus government officials also added to the United States' blocking list include: the Minister of Justice; the National Security Adviser; the Minister of Internal Affairs, chief of the Belarusian KGB; chief of the Central Commission for Elections and National Referendums and the head of the Belarusian State Television and Radio Co.

The department did not elaborate on its action.

There was no immediate comment from the Belarus embassy.

Last month Lukashenko said that his government would appeal to international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, against travel bans imposed against him and other officials by the US and the European Union.

Bureau Report