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Iran Press TV

Russia's FM: Belarusian opposition members who left for West seek 'bloodshed'

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 23 August 2020 3:56 PM

Russia has accused Belarusian opposition members, who have left the country for West amid violent protests over election results, of seeking "bloodshed."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday that Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who left the country for West two weeks ago, had been "pressured" as she started to make more statements in English recently, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

The Russian foreign minister further noted that it is impossible to prove that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko did not win the vote in the absence of international observers.

Lavrov said Moscow calls for the launch of a genuinely broad national dialogue in Belarus following weeks of large-scale rioting in the Eastern European country.

Despite President Lukashenko's pledge to take "stringent measures" to defend his country's territorial integrity against the protests, the opposition leader warned that Lukashenko should "step away" and "it is better for everybody".

Lukashenko defeated Tikhanovskaya in the August 9 presidential poll by winning over 80 percent of the vote, according to the official Central Election Commission.

Rejecting the election results, Tikhanovskaya then departed Belarus for neighboring Lithuania and established a Coordination Council for the transition of power in Belarus amid raging protests that led to violent clashes with police and arrest of thousands.

EU foreign ministers threatened last week to prepare new sanctions against the Belarusian officials over what they described as "violence, repression and the falsification of election results."

The Belarusian president has expressed concern about foreign meddling in the internal affairs of his country. Last week, he warned about potential military action by US-led NATO against Belarus.

EU pledges money for "Belarus people" in clear act of interference

In a related development, the European Union has said that it would provide financial support to the Belarusian "people" amid ongoing protests, vowing to sanction those responsible for "repressing" the results of the presidential election.

The comments were made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, following a video conference of the European Council members on the situation in Belarus.

"First, on the support. We already provide a lot of support to Belarus through the Eastern Partnership. But now, it is more important than ever to be there for the Belarus people and to reprogram money away from the authorities and towards civil society and vulnerable groups. The European Commission will mobilize now an additional EUR 53 million to support the Belarusian people in these challenging times", von der Leyen said in a statement.

"But as we increase our support to the people of Belarus, we must be firm with those that rigged the elections", she said, adding that "there was unanimous support for the EU to be working on sanctions against those responsible for what is taking place".

Von der Leyen further said the EU stands ready to accompany "peaceful democratic transition of power in Belarus", noting that it supports the opening of dialogue between Belarusian authorities and the opposition.

An emergency European Union summit on Belarus was held on August 19, during which leaders of 27 EU states, as well as heads of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council approved a concluding statement that says the EU does not recognize the outcome of the Belarusian election and further demands a transparent probe into police violence.

The EU and the US have long accused Lukashenko of human rights violations because of his close ties with Russia. The European bloc has also used those allegations to impose sanctions on the 65-year-old president but removed them in 2016.

President Lukashenko hit out at the US and its allied European nations, saying they are sponsoring violent protests by opposition supporters across the country following his landslide re-election victory.

"The US is planning and directing it, and the Europeans are playing along," BelTA news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying Friday.

"A special center" has been set-up near the Polish capital of Warsaw for the effort", the Belarusian president noted.



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