Opposition in Belarus urges the EU not to recognize the elections for the summit

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarus’s presidential challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Wednesday accused European Union leaders of not recognizing what she called fraudulent election results, saying longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko had lost all legitimacy.

Belarussian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks in a video message at an unknown location in Lithuania, in this still image taken from handout video released on August 19, 2020. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Headquarters / Handout via REUTERS

Tsikhanouskaya speaks of exile in neighboring Lithuania before an emergency EU summit, to be held through a video conference, was to discuss the crisis that developed in Belarus, where the elections of Aug.9 provoked massive protests .

Tsikhanouskaya says she was the rightful winner of the election and wants new elections to be held under one kind of international supervision.

“I urge you not to acknowledge these fraudulent elections,” Tsikhanouskaya said in a video address. “Mr. Lukashenko has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of our nation and the world. ”

Lukashenko has struggled to contain the protests and a wave of strikes that poses the biggest challenge to his 26-year-old hold. He refused to postpone the election to secure a sixth term.

The EU has signaled that it will impose sanctions on Belarussian officials who hold them accountable for electoral fraud and the collapse of demonstrations in which at least two Protestants were killed and thousands detained.

Attention is firmly focused on how Russia will respond to the biggest political crisis an ex-Soviet neighbor has had in Ukraine since 2014, when Moscow intervened militarily after a friendly leader was killed by public protests was.

Flight tracking data showed that a Russian government plane used to carry senior government officials, including the head of the FSB security service, had made a quick flight to Belarus and back, landing in Moscow early on Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has provided Lukashenko with military aid as needed, spoke by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Council Charles Michel.

He warned Merkel and Macron against foreign mediation in the affairs of Belarus, a close Russian ally that transports Russian energy exports to the West and is seen by Moscow as a strategic buffer against the EU and NATO.


EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said the bloc would take into account the nature of Minsk’s relationship with Russia.

“Belarus is not Europe, it is on the border of Europe, between Europe and Russia, and the situation is not comparable to Ukraine or Georgia. “Belarus is really strongly associated with Russia and the majority of the population is in favor of concluding ties with Russia,” he said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde has offered to visit Minsk in her role as incoming president of the OSCE, a security body that includes both Western countries and former Soviet states, and often mediates in the region.

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Linde said she had spoken to Tsikhanouskaya who was “very positive” in her response to the offer of mediation by the OSCE.

The protests have spread to some of the country’s most important industrial plants supporting Lukashenko’s economic model. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Wednesday, removing two people from the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ).

Local media reported that security forces had taken control of a 19th-century theater in Minsk, which became a hotbed of protests after its director, a former Belarusian diplomat, was fired after he protested in favor of the protests. pronounced.

Report by Andrei Makhovsky in Minsk, Maria Kiselyova and Rinat Sagdiev in Moscow, Yoruk Isik in Istanbul, Geert De Clercq in Paris and Simon Johnson in Stockholm: Written by Matthias Williams; Edited by Andrew Osborn and Philippa Fletcher

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