The United States moved Monday to clamp down financially on Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko as well as other government officials.
The Treasury Department added Lukashenko to its list of specially designated nationals, meaning that any assets belonging to Lukashenko found in the U.S. must be blocked and Americans are forbidden from doing business with him.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, is often branded by Western countries as "Europe's last dictator." He won a third term in March 19 elections deemed fraudulent by Western governments.
After the election, the White House said it would enact targeted travel restrictions and financial sanctions against Lukashenko. U.S. officials said Lukashenko's victory resulted from election fraud and human rights abuses.
In February, the Bush administration linked Lukashenko's government to the murders of a pro-democracy businessman and an independent journalist.
Other Belarus government officials also added to the United States' blocking list include: the minister of justice; the national security adviser; the minister of internal affairs, chief of the Belarusian KGB; chief of the central commission for elections and national referendums and the head of the Belarusian State Television and Radio Co.
"These sanctions, imposed in coordination with targeted financial sanctions adopted by the European Union indicate the international community's intention to hold to account those responsible for abuses in Belarus," the White House said in a statement explanining the move.
It said the United States will continue to gather and review information regarding possible additional targets, reports AP.
The United States does not recognize the entry of Ukrainian territories into Russia. Such a development will seriously complicate prospects for a diplomatic settlement