Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the fundamental difference between the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, which took place in 2013-2014, and the protests that are underway in Belarus, is that Ukrainians sought to change the vector of the country's development, while Belarusians express their dissatisfaction only with the ruling elite.
"I would not compare the situation in 2014 in Ukraine, namely the Maidan, the Revolution of Dignity, and the current events in Belarus. Outwardly, they may seem similar, but there is one fundamental difference between them: in 2014, the Ukrainians sought the development of their state as a European one, it was a matter of choice, whether to return to the Russian-controlled space, or continue moving into a large European family," he said at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Kyiv on August 24, an UNIAN correspondent reports.
"We do not see this choice in Belarus now," Kuleba said.
"We believe that Belarusians, first of all, express their dissatisfaction with the ruling elite, which has been holding power in the country for decades, but now there are no talks in Belarus about choosing the movement of this country," the minister said.
Read alsoKey to Donbas peace lies in Moscow – KulebaKuleba said this is a fundamental difference and must be taken into account.
First of all, the Belarusian people must make a choice, he said.
The minister added the EU would decide how to support the Belarusians in the future based on their choice.
Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine
- Mass protests began in the capital city of Kyiv and other Ukrainian settlements after the refusal of the Ukrainian authorities to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. Further escalation of the confrontation led to demands for the resignation of the government and President Viktor Yanukovych, as well as clashes between protesters and law enforcers.
- Most people were killed in February 2014 during clashes with law enforcers downtown Kyiv, as well as from bullets from snipers – over 100 people, hundreds were wounded.
- The protests, which lasted from late November 2013 till the end of February 2014, were called Euromaidan, Maidan, and later the Revolution of Dignity.
Belarus protests: background
- On August 9, presidential elections were held in Belarus. The country's Central Election Commission announced the final election results. In particular, 80.1% of voters supported incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, 10.1% voted for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 1.67% for Anna Kanopatskaya, 1.2% for Andrey Dmitriev, and 1.14% for Sergei Cherechnya. Some 4.59% voted against all candidates.
- Thousands of residents of Belarus took to the streets to protest what they believe is a rigged vote count. Riot police violently cracked down on protesters.
- Belarus' Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 7,000 protesters had been detained in different cities since August 9. On the evening of August 13, the authorities started to release detainees.
- On August 14, the European Union announced it did not recognize the outcome of the presidential elections in Belarus and on August 19 leaders reportedly agreed on sanctions to be introduced over election rigging and violence against protesters.
- The March of Freedom, the largest protest in the history of Belarus, took place on August 16 in Minsk. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in.
- On August 20, the Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal probe into the attempt by the opposition to "seize power."
- Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed "foreign interference" in the election and the external efforts to foment protests. He spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin who had promised him comprehensive assistance upon request.
- Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin has warned of the possible use of army to disperse protesters rallying under the flags he claims were once used by Nazi troops.