Belarus to UN:Sanctions Harmful For All09/27 11:05
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Belarus' foreign minister warned Western nations
Saturday against imposing sanctions over the country's disputed presidential
election and crackdown on protesters, saying their expressions of concern are
"nothing but attempts to bring chaos and anarchy to our country."
With the European Union and Britain contemplating sanctions, Belarusian
Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told the virtual U.N. General Assembly meeting
of world leaders that "interference in our internal affairs, sanctions and
other restrictions on Belarus will have the opposite effect and are harmful for
"We call on our partners to demonstrate wisdom, restraint and impartiality,"
he said in a pre-recorded speech for the U.N. session held online because of
the coronavirus pandemic.
Makei's speech was played hours after the latest in a series of large
protests in Belarus over the Aug. 9 re-election of President Alexander
Lukashenko, which his opponents say was rigged. The authoritarian leader
further angered opponents this week by taking the oath of office for a new term
in an unexpected and secretive ceremony.
The demonstrations are by far the largest and most persistent in Belarus
since its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Makei's remarks to
the international community, which included saying "the people made their
choice" in the election, could fuel further protests Sunday. The rallies are
typically largest on Sundays, sometimes drawing crowds of up to 200,000 people.
In the first three days of demonstrations in August, police used tear gas,
truncheons and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. Several protesters died, many
were injured and around 6,000 were detained.
Amid international outrage over the crackdown, Belarusian authorities
switched to prosecuting top activists. Many members of the Coordination
Council, a group that the opposition formed to push for a transition of power,
have been arrested or forced to leave the country.
Last week, the U.N.'s Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling for
an investigation into possible human rights violations by Lukashenko's
government, with a report to come by the end of the year.
The United States and the European Union have questioned the election and
criticized the police actions toward peaceful protesters. The EU is pondering
sanctions for top Belarusian officials, but it failed to agree on imposing them
this week and plans to continue discussions in the coming week. Meanwhile,
Britain said Thursday it was working on sanctions and also was in discussions
with the U.S. and Canada.
EU Council President Charles Michel told the General Assembly on Friday in
his own video speech that "repression and intimidation must stop" and those
responsible must be held accountable.
"We stand with the Belarusian people who must be free, without any external
coercion, to choose their own future," Michel said, calling for inclusive
national dialogue facilitated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation
Lukashenko has bristled at suggestions of starting a dialogue with the
opposition and has cast the protests as part of a Western plot to isolate
Russia, Belarus' his main sponsor and ally.
Makei said the situation in Belarus "indeed has become complex," but he
dismissed Western countries' complaints as meddling "statements brimming with
"In actual fact, they are nothing but attempts to bring chaos and anarchy to
our country to make Belarus lose many years of development," the foreign