WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- There are grave concerns about the human rights situation in Belarus, the United States and European Union said a year after the country's election.
A statement from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Europe's top foreign policy official Catherine Ashton said there were credible reports coming out of Belarus about violent treatment of political prisoners.
"Over the past 12 months, the Belarusian authorities have imprisoned peaceful demonstrators, suppressed non-violent protests and worked to silence independent voices," they said.
Hundreds of challengers to President Alexander Lukashenko were rounded up following elections in December 2010. One of Lukashenko's main political opponents, Andrei Sannikov, was recently reported missing from a penal colony.
The foreign policy officials said they took note of some prisoner releases but said they shared concerns over laws that limit basic civil rights on Belarus.
Cold War tensions have resurfaced amid U.S. plans to install a nuclear shield in Eastern Europe ostensibly to deter Iran. Minsk last week said it took delivery of two missile-shield systems from Russia and more were on the way.