Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey has accused Western states of interfering in the country's internal affairs to foment "chaos and anarchy" amid weeks of protests following last month's disputed presidential election.

'We are seeing attempts to destabilize the situation in the country,' he told the United Nations General Assembly in a video statement on September 26. 'Interference in our internal affairs, sanctions and other restrictions on Belarus will have the opposite effect, and are harmful for absolutely everyone.'

The United States, European Union, Britain, and Canada are expected soon to impose sanctions on Belarus for a violent crackdown on protesters following the August 9 presidential election that was widely viewed as rigged to hand Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth term in power.

Under increasing pressure from the street and West, Lukashenka has leaned on neighboring Russia for political and economic support.

Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was inaugurated on September 23 in a secretive ceremony that prompted EU members and the United States to issue statements that they did not recognize his legitimacy.

'Statements brimming with cynicism have been made by a series of our Western colleagues about their alleged concern for Belarusian sovereignty and well-being,' Makey told the United Nations. 'In actual fact they are nothing other than attempts to bring chaos and anarchy to our country.'

The EU and United States have increased contacts with Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the self-exiled opposition candidate, who is now in Lithuania and says she won the election.

Tsikhanouskaya has called for Belarusians to demonstrate yet again on September 27 for the "goal of new, honest elections and, as a result, an official, lawful inauguration."

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets for seven weeks, calling for Lukashenka to step down and new elections to be held. Police have arrested an estimated 12,000 people amid widespread evidence of beatings and torture.

Meanwhile, most figures in the opposition's Coordination Council, a body established to facilitate dialogue and a peaceful transfer of power, have been forced into exile or detained.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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