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WASHINGTON, June 14 (Itar-Tass) - U.S. President Barack Obama has extended unilateral American sanctions against Belarus for one more year.
Such annual extensions, with the approval of the Congress, are allowed by law.
“In 2012, the Government of Belarus continued its crackdown against political opposition, civil society, and independent media. The September 23 elections failed to meet international standards. The government arbitrarily arrested, detained, and imprisoned citizens for criticizing officials or for participating in demonstrations; imprisoned at least one human rights activist on manufactured charges; and prevented independent media from disseminating information and materials. These actions show that the Government of Belarus has not taken steps forward in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights,” the presidential notice to the Congress, posted on the White House’s official website on Thursday, June 13, said.
The U.S. government believes that “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
The sanctions were imposed in June 2006 by George W. Bush and have been extended regularly since then.
On June 16, 2006, the U.S. president declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to deal with “the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine Belarus’s democratic processes or institutions, manifested in the fundamentally undemocratic March 2006 elections, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, including detentions and disappearances, and to engage in public corruption, including by diverting or misusing Belarusian public assets or by misusing public authority,” the notice said.
Obama’s decision indicates that the U.S. government sees no serious reason to normalise relations with Belarus. However some progress has been reached in bilateral relations. In March diplomatic consultations between the two countries at the working level resumed in Washington, for the first time in many years.
In May, the U.S. authorities refrained from extending sanctions against Beltechexport and Belarusian Optical and Mechanical Association.