Belarus, protesting additional U.S. economic sanctions, also withdrew its ambassador, Mikhail Khvostov. The Bush administration said the new sanctions on the national oil monopoly, Belneftekhim, will remain until the country’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, allows free elections and releases political prisoners.
In his meeting at the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Moore “protested this news and noted that there would be grave consequences as a result of this unprecedented and unwarranted step by the Belarussian authorities,” the embassy said in a statement on its Web site (http://minsk.usembassy.gov).
Mr. Moore also protested the Belarus government’s continued refusal to allow the embassy access to Emanuel Zeltser, a Russian-born American citizen who was detained March 12. Belarus has given no reason for his arrest.
The embassy expressed concern over Mr. Zeltser’s “serious pre-existing health conditions” that require daily medication. Authorities recently transferred him to a state psychiatric hospital, the embassy said.
Mr. Zeltser, a lawyer who specializes in money-laundering cases, sued the former Bank of New York in the 1990s over its connection to a Russian organized-crime gang that used the bank to move cash into the United States and avoid Russian taxes.
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