US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill providing new sanctions against Belarus.
It has been stated by Jay Carney, the spokesperson of the White House.
Earlier, on December 21, the US Congress passed Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011, strengthening the sanctions.
The new package of sanctions expands the list of Belarusian officials and law enforcing structures representatives on who visa bans and financial restrictions are slapped. The law also includes a call on the International Ice Hockey Federation to “suspend its plan to hold the 2014 International World Ice Hockey championship in Minsk until the government of Belarus releases all political prisoners.”
In mid December the bill on sanctions was approved by the US Senate.
The sanctions would not be lifted until all persons recognized as political prisoners by the West are released.
As one of the initiators of the law Congressman Chris Smith said, by these sanctions the US stands on the side of the Belarusian nation and against all its oppressors.
The Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011 passed by the Congress strengthens and expands the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 and the Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006.
In particular, under the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 the US President is to inform the US Congress in detail about all arms deliveries and related technologies by Belarus to the countries sponsoring international terrorism. The document also envisages assignment of funds from the US state budget for support of democratic process in Belarus.
The US leadership constantly reviewed the sanctions against Belarus and strengthened them. In August 2011 the US toughened the sanctions imposed in the end of January, when visa bans, freezing of assets and sanctions were imposed.
The intention to widen the list of sanctions against Belarus, again strengthened in January 2011 after the events on the Independence Square in Minsk, was stated by Barack Obama in May.
On December 19, 2010 Belarusian opposition staged in Minsk a protest rally against rigged election results. The authorities detained hundreds of peaceful protesters, including the presidential candidates, which was strongly condemned by the EU and the US. These countries demand to release the oppositionists.
After December 19 events, when about 600 persons were detained, including 6 ex-candidates for presidency, the EU and the US slapped joint visa sanctions against 157 Belarusian officials. Among the persons banned from entering these countries were Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his sons Viktar and Dzmitry, journalists of state-run mass media, high-ranking officials, judges, representatives of the prosecutor’s office.