US lawmakers: Move ice hockey tourney from Belarus
US lawmakers, joined by an ice hockey hall of famer, said Monday that "totalitarian nightmare" Belarus should not be allowed to host an international ice hockey championship in 2014.
Senator Dick Durbin, Representative Mike Quigley, both Democrats, urged International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel to postpone the competition over concerns about human rights.
They were joined by former Slovak ice hockey player Peter Stastny, who is now serving as a member of the European parliament.
"We urge you to consider such action to ensure that Lukashenko's totalitarian nightmare does not receive the international sanction or legitimacy that would be conveyed by hosting the 2014 Championship until he releases all political prisoners in his KGB prisons," they wrote.
President Alexander Lukashenko -- dubbed Europe's last dictator by Washington -- won a fourth term in office in December elections denounced in the West as wholly fraudulent, then unleashed a brutal crackdown on opposition critics.
In January, the European Union and United States slapped a new raft of sanctions -- including a travel ban and asset freeze -- on Lukashenko and 157 associates.
"His regime should not be rewarded with the prestige associated with hosting the 2014 International Ice Hockey Championship while his citizens languish in jail for peacefully trying to exercise minimal political freedoms," according to the letter to Fasel.