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Moscow slams EU sanctions on Belarus officials

RIA Novosti

21:20 01/02/2011 MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) - EU sanctions against Minsk are politically motivated, destabilizing and counterproductive, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The European Union and the United States on Monday announced the introduction of new travel and financial sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and 157 other state and government officials in response to December's flawed elections and a brutal clampdown on opposition leaders and protesters.

"Russia's position is that Belarus as a sovereign European state be broadly involved in international cooperation processes," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"In this strategic context, the application of politically motivated unilateral sanctions against Belarus, designed to disrupt socio-economic stability in the country, will be counterproductive."

"On the contrary, the establishment and development of mutually beneficial and equal ties with Belarus would have boosted market reforms and further growth of democratic institutions in the country," the spokesman added.

The Belarusian elections saw incumbent President Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for more than 15 years, win a fourth term in office with almost 80 percent of the vote.

More than 600 people were detained during large-scale protests that broke out in the capital, Minsk, following the polls that the opposition claimed were rigged. Most of the detainees have been charged with administrative offenses but dozens of criminal cases have been initiated over the protests, including several against former presidential candidates.

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