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Obama extends Belarus sanctions

June 14, 2011 at 7:17 PM

WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- Saying the government of Belarus has "taken steps backward" in democracy and human rights, U.S. President Obama Tuesday extended sanctions against the country.

Measures approved by President George W. Bush in 2006 were scheduled to expire Thursday. Obama, saying Belarus is still a threat to U.S. security, signed an executive order that continues to freeze the U.S. assets of some members of the Belarus government.

"The flawed December 2010 presidential election in Belarus and its aftermath -- the harsh violence against peaceful demonstrators; the continuing detention, prosecution, and imprisonment of opposition presidential candidates and others; and the continuing repression of independent media and civil society activists -- all show that the government of Belarus has taken steps backward in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Belarus is a former Soviet republic lying between Poland and Russia. Alexander Lukashenko has been president since 1994.

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