After the presidential election in Belarus, overshadowed by allegations of manipulation, the European Union (EU) is considering new sanctions against the leadership in Minsk. Relationships will be thoroughly reviewed, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on behalf of all 27 states.
The choice was neither fair nor free, said Borrell. State authorities have used unacceptable violence, thousands of people have been detained and crackdown on freedom of assembly, media and expression has been stepped up. "The people of Belarus deserve better". However, all member states would first have to agree so that the sanctions can also be decided, said brothel spokesman. It is to be expected that Hungary will block such punitive measures. In June, the government spoke out in favor of lifting measures against Belarus.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has already advocated examining EU sanctions against the authoritarian country. Most recently, in February 2016, the EU let numerous sanctions against incumbent Alexander Lukashenko and his government expire.
According to the state election commission, Lukashenko won the election with around 80 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tichanowskaya only got around 6.8 percent of the vote. However, it does not recognize the choice. The results are questioned not only in Belarus but also internationally. Tichanovskaya fled to Lithuania shortly after the election.
Massive police violence at nationwide demonstrations
That is why the largest nationwide protests Belarus has ever seen broke out after the election. Thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against election fraud. Videos from social networks showed violent clashes between the police and the demonstrator. Officials beat people and were then attacked by other passers-by. Stun grenades and tear gas were also used.
More than 5,000 people were arrested and hundreds injured. One protester died in the course of the protests. The federal government and other states condemned the violence of the police forces. Borrel also called on the leadership in Minsk to engage in dialogue so that further violence against demonstrators could be avoided.
The Foreign Ministry in Minsk, on the other hand, rejected any criticism from abroad. The quick statements made by numerous European politicians are absolutely unacceptable, the ministry said, according to a report by the state news agency Belta. No attempt is even made to understand the situation objectively and to verify information.
Belarus - A demonstrator dies during protests in Minsk In Belarus, protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, some of which were violent, continue. According to police, a protester died in the capital Minsk. © Photo: Sergei Grits / AP / dpa