U.S. Lifts Sanctions On Two Belarusian State-Owned Companies

(RTTNews) - The United States has lifted the sanctions it had imposed on two subsidiaries of the Belarusian state-owned petrochemical concern Belneftekhim, U.S. Embassy officials in Minsk said Friday.

The U.S. officials said that the sanctions on fiberglass company Steklovolokno and lacquer and paint producer Lakokraska, the two subsidiaries of Belneftekhim, would be suspended for two months, enabling American companies to do business with them in the said period.

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Popov welcomed the U.S. decision and described it as a step in the right direction. "This move by the US administration is also in the interests of the US business community," he said in a statement.

The U.S. move follows the release of a number of political prisoners by Belarusian authorities in August. Those released included Belarus' main opposition leader Alexander Kozulin, who was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for organizing protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Soon after Kozulin's arrest, U.S. imposed sanctions on Belneftekhim, deteriorating the relations between the two countries. This triggered a series of diplomatic expulsions from both sides, and even now, the two sides do not have full diplomatic ties as both countries withdrew their ambassadors in March.

Even though the sanctions on the two Belarusian companies have been lifted, most of the remaining sanctions imposed on the former soviet state remains in force, including travel restrictions imposed on the president Lukashenko and his inner-circle by the US and the EU.



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