Putin pledges support for Belarus president

Putin pledges support for Belarus president
President Alexander Lukashenko (L) said Putin pledges support for him. Source: Moskva News Agency
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Daily US Times: President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who is under serious pressure in his country amid massive protests against him, says that Russia has agreed to offer security assistance in the case of external military threats.

Mr Lukashenko also voiced concerns over Nato military exercises taking place in neighbouring Lithuania and Poland.

The news comes as the embattled president faces mass protests in hius country over the disputed 9 August election.

On Sunday, thousands gathered outside state television, demanding full coverage of the demonstrations.

The unrest erupted after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in last week’s election. The election result has been condemned amid widespread allegations of vote-rigging.

The Central Election Commission says Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and considered the last autocrat in Europe, won 80.1% of the vote and the main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya 10.12%.

But Ms Tikhanovskaya insists that where votes were properly counted, she won support ranging from 60% to 70%.

What’s happening politically?

As the unrest and protests continued on Saturday, Mr Lukashenko sought help from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He then said Russian President Putin had promised to provide what he called comprehensive assistance in the event of external military threats to Belarus.

The announcement came the day after the European Union’s (EU) foreign ministers agreed to prepare new sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for “falsification”. The United States has also condemned the election as “not free and fair”.

In a joint statement on Saturday, meanwhile, the prime ministers of three Baltic republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – “expressed deep concern at the violent crackdown… and the political repression of the opposition by the authorities”.

Latvia and Lithuania have previously said they are prepared to mediate in Belarus, provided the authorities stopped violence against protesters and formed a national council with members of civil society. They warned that the alternative was sanctions.

The leaders of these countries said the presidential election was “neither free nor fair” and called for a “transparent” vote “with the participation of international observers”.

The statement added: “The prime ministers urge the Belarusian authorities to refrain from violence against peaceful demonstrators [and to] release all political prisoners and those that have been detained.”

Following the election, Ms Tikhanovskaya left for Lithuania after she publicly denounced the results. She had sent her children to Lithuania for their safety before the vote.

In the wake of the election, some 6,700 people were arrested and many have spoken of torture at the hands of the security services.

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