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Lavrov Warns Against Ukraine Scenario in Belarus, as Minsk Opposition Makes Demands

Aug. 24, 2020 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned against a Ukrainian scenario for Belarus. But first he said on Aug. 23 that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should have accepted Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s invitation to send observers to the presidential elections in Belarus. The OSCE refused to send observers claiming the request was made outside the time limit. “With no observers the West brands as independent present, it would be very difficult to persuade anyone that the results of the presidential polls were exactly converse to those that were announced,” he said at a nationwide youth forum Territory of Senses. “It is impossible to prove that President Lukashenko lost these elections without accepting his invitation....” Lavrov also said observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the CIS Parliamentary Assembly, and some of the CIS nations had reported “no serious violations capable of impacting the elections’ outcome,” TASS reported yesterday.

The Foreign Minister said Russia’s position “is very simple: this is an internal affair of Belarus. Belarusians can quite cope with the situation on their own, being a wise people. The main thing is to make sure that unrest is not provoked from the outside.” He added that Russia

“will not be against any decision, which the Belarusian leadership will make on dialogue with its population.... But when the West says that only mediation with the participation of Western countries will be effective, everyone, of course, has fresh memories about how it all developed in Ukraine when the Western mediation made our corresponding partners fully unable to comply with their commitments....

“Both opposition activists, who have formed a kind of coordinating council, and some Western nations, first of all the United States, are seeking to picture this coordinating council as a legitimate negotiating partner of the Belarusian government. They are unhappy that the protests ... are not becoming more large-scale and loud.”

On Aug. 23, however, the protest in Minsk was the largest thus far. There, Pavel Latushko, a member of the Belarusian opposition coordination council, said it was insisting on a return to the 1994 constitution, which set the upper limit of Presidential terms. “We insist on a national referendum on that matter,” he stressed. He said the opposition also demands that the top Interior Ministry officials resign for not opening criminal cases on the 700 cases of the use of force by the police against civilians, who have turned to the Investigative Committee with complaints, reported TASS.

Latushko is a former professional diplomat, ambassador to Poland and France, and former culture minister in 2010-12. On Aug. 20, Latushko told TASS: “We are not considering any foreign policy prospects of our country, we are working with what we have today—very friendly and profound relations with the Russian Federation.... “Belarus is part of the European civilization historically. We are interested in having good relations with the EU. We are interested in building a strong and stable bridge between the East and the West.” He said earlier in the interview, “We are often accused of having a program whose goal is to destroy the relations with Russia, this is complete nonsense, there is no such program.”

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