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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. to expand sanctions against Belarus - Obama

RIA Novosti

22:34 27/05/2011 WASHINGTON, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - The United States is set to expand sanctions against Belarus, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement on Friday.

"Consistent with our values and principles, the U.S. Government will pursue new sanctions against Belarusian state-owned enterprises, in addition to the sanctions, travel restrictions, and asset freezes announced on January 31," Obama said in the statement, adding that these measures were targeted "against those responsible for the repression, particularly President [Alexander] Lukashenko, and are not directed against the people of Belarus."

Obama's statement came after four former Belarusian opposition presidential candidates were put in jail on charges of organizing mass protests on December 19 after the Belarusian presidential elections, internationally viewed as rigged.

Incumbent President Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's Last Dictator," won a fourth term in office with almost 80 percent of the vote. More than 600 people were detained after large-scale protests broke out in the capital of Minsk.

"In a major step backward for democracy in Belarus, their trials were clearly politically motivated and failed to meet even the most minimal standards required of a fair and independent judiciary," Obama said referring to jailed Vladimir Neklyaev, Vitaly Rymashevsky, Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Uss.

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