The confrontation between Belarus and Western countries continues. The USA and its Western allies accuse Lukashenko of opposing the democracy in Belarus. The latest step in this confrontation was made by George Bush.
He announced new sanctions against the authoritarian regime in Belarus, including a freeze on financial assets held in the US by President Alexander Lukashenko and other senior government officials.
Mr Lukashenko, whose autocratic ways have long incensed Washington and its European allies, has been added to the Treasury Department's list of "specially designated nationals". This means that any assets he holds here will automatically be blocked, and US citizens are prohibited from having any dealings with him.
Other officials being targeted by Washington include the Minister of Justice, Mr Lukashenko's national security adviser, the Interior Minister, the chief of the Belarus KGB, the head of the national election commission, and the head of state television and radio.
Mr Lukashenko has held absolute power in Belarus since 1994. His most recent election victory on 19 March has been described as a fraud by Western governments. The Bush administration has described him as " Europe's last dictator", and Belarus features in the US list of "outposts of tyranny", along with the likes of Zimbabwe, Burma and Cuba, The Independent reports.
The freeze follows a ban on travel to the European Union's 25 member states, which the United States also officially imposed earlier this week. The Bush administration has also warned that it would freeze Lukashenko's assets but has not yet done so.
The immediate effect is unknown, since it is not clear whether Lukashenko has bank accounts in Europe or the U.S. Lukashenko has mocked the asset freeze, as he has the visa ban, The Chicago Tribune says.
As a reason for the move was “fraudulent presidential election in March 2006, repression of post-election demonstrations, and continued detention of activists and opposition supporters, including former presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin.”
According to Reuters, Bush referred to Belarus in a speech on Monday to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's graduating class in Kings Point, New York, saying he wanted to see freedom extended to Belarus, “where we support the reformers seeking to erase the stain of dictatorship from Europe.”
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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