Alexander Lukashenko: European Union wants to review relations with Belarus

Thousands of arrests, the opposition leader in exile: after the apparently rigged elections in Belarus, the EU has now found a common position – there is no mention of sanctions.

Relations with the EU’s eastern neighbour Belarus are being put to the test after the questionable presidential election allegedly won by incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, and because of the “unfortunate events surrounding Sunday’s presidential election”, a spokesman for the EU Commission said that “a whole range of issues will be reviewed with regard to relations between the EU and Belarus. There was no mention of sanctions, however.

After the ballot, in which ruler Lukashenko was confirmed in office for the fifth time with allegedly 80 percent approval, thousands had demonstrated against the election results. Security forces drove the demonstrators apart with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets. Thousands of arrests since SundayThe Belarusian government announced on Tuesday that 2000 demonstrators had been arrested. On Monday, the Ministry of the Interior reported that 3000 people had already been arrested on election night, while activists reported that hundreds of demonstrators had been injured by police violence. One demonstrator was allegedly run over by security forces and killed. Minsk denies this.

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya set off for neighbouring EU country Lithuania on Tuesday night. On Sunday she had declared that she did not recognize the official result. According to the election commission, she received only 9.9 percent of the votes, but there are doubts about the independence of the commission. Federal government calls falsified election reports “credible” The federal government had declared on Monday that there were “great doubts” about the controversial presidential election. It is “quite obvious” that “the minimum standards for democratic elections were not met”, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The reports on election fraud were “credible”.

According to reports, under pressure from the authorities, Tikhanovskaya had to record a video message warning her supporters not to continue to oppose the police in Belarus. “I do not want blood and violence,” she said in the video, which was released on Tuesday before she left the country on the news channel Telegram. Sitting on a couch, Tikhanovskaya reads a message and never looks into the camera, and in a video published on Tuesday morning she justified her decision to leave the country. “I thought the election campaign had hardened me and given me the strength to get through anything. But I probably remained the weak woman I was at the beginning,” said the mother of two with a halting voice.

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