The United States has imposed financial sanctions against six more Belarusian officials for their involvement in human rights abuses and political repression. The action taken by the U.S. Treasury Department freezes the assets of these individuals in the United States and prohibits U.S. citizens from doing business with them. The U.S. took similar measures against ten other Belarusians, including President Alexander Lukashenko, in July 2006.
A Treasury Department statement said that the "actions and the policies" of the Belarusian officials "undermine Belarus' democratic processes and institutions." The most compelling example is the undemocratic presidential election held in Belarus in March 2006.
Following the vote, thousands of opposition supporters led a series of demonstrations in Minsk, the capital. Police forcibly broke up the rallies and arrested hundreds of protesters, including opposition leader Alexander Kozulin, who remains in jail. The Lukashenko government continues to arrest young opposition members.
Another reason for sanctions on Belarusian officials is the unsolved disappearance of several government critics. Among those missing are Victor Gonchar, a leader of the democratic opposition, and pro-democracy businessman Anatoly Krasovsky, both of whom vanished in 1999.
Dmitry Zavadsky was a well-known television journalist. He went missing in 2000 after he reported that Belarusian authorities may have aided Chechen separatists. International investigations have concluded there is credible information that these men were murdered by Belarusian authorities.
Adam Szubin is Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Treasury Department. "Those who commit human rights abuses and political repression," he said, "have no place in civil society." The U.S., said Mr. Szubin, "will continue to target Belarusian official who abuse their positions to steal from their people and to suppress democracy and freedom."