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European Parliament Urges Belarus Hockey Rethink

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has approved a resolution calling on the International Ice Hockey Federation to consider taking away from Belarus the right to host the 2014 IIHF World Championships because of human rights violations in the authoritarian-ruled state.

EU lawmakers on March 29 asked the international federation to punish Belarus if the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka refuses to release political prisoners.

The resolution also deplores the recent executions of alleged Minsk subway bombers Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, and calls on Belarusian authorities to immediately suspend use of the death penalty.

Critics have warned that a world hockey competition in Belarus could give legitimacy to Lukashenka’s regime.

Earlier this month, Lukashenka denounced international pressure over the tournament, describing it as “a political move" with "no relation to sports.”