U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law the Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011, which envisions new sanctions against Belarus, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The bill, approved by the Senate in mid-December, expands the list of Belarusian officials and law enforcement officers that will face visa restrictions and financial sanctions.
It also calls for 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.”
The act expands earlier adopted acts on democracy in the former Soviet republic, ruled by Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” by the West.
The signed bill states that it is the policy of the United States to “remain open to reevaluating its policy toward Belarus as warranted by demonstrable progress made by the government of Belarus.”
Belarusian police beat and arrested hundreds of demonstrators, who attempted to storm the Belarusian government headquarters in protest against Lukashenko's re-election after the December 19, 2010 vote.
The United States and European Union condemned the crackdown and imposed sanctions against Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1994.
A number of opposition activists were sentenced to jail terms of up to four years.