Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted to reject the official results of the August 9 presidential elections in Belarus, saying Alexander Lukashenko should no longer be recognized as president after his term expires; they have also called for tough sanctions against Minsk.
The relevant resolution was adopted at a European Parliament meeting in Brussels on Thursday, September 17.
In particular, MEPs note the elections were conducted in flagrant violation of all internationally recognized standards.
At the same time, the European Parliament strongly supports EU sanctions against individuals, including Lukashenko, responsible for the falsification of the election results and repression in Belarus. Moreover, the EU institution calls for the immediate introduction of the sanctions.
In addition, the European Parliament condemned Russia's hybrid interference in Belarus.
"The European Parliament condemns the hybrid interference of the Russian Federation in Belarus, notably delegating so-called media experts to the Belarusian state media and advisors to the military and law enforcement agencies, and calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to halt any covert or overt interference in the internal processes of Belarus; urges the Russian Federation to respect international law and the sovereignty of Belarus; warns that Alexander Lukashenko has no political or moral mandate to enter into any further contractual relations on behalf of Belarus, including with Russian authorities, which could threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus," the document reads.
Recent developments in Belarus in brief
- 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 took to the streets to protest what many believe was 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 16, the March of Freedom, the largest protest in the history of Belarus, took place in Minsk. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in.
- Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed "foreign interference" in the election and external efforts to foment the protests. He spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin who had promised him comprehensive assistance upon request.
- On August 27, Putin suggested sending Russian security forces to suppress protests in Belarus.
- The European Union declared non-recognition of the Belarus election results and reached an agreement to impose sanctions against Belarusian officials in response to vote rigging and the use of violence against protesters.
- On September 15, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a statement on Belarus. Ukrainian lawmakers said the presidential elections in that country were unfair. They condemned repression against protesters and vowed support for sanctions to be introduced by the European Union against Belarusian officials.