REUTERS

United States Congressmen Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel, the Committee Chairman, have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to send military assistance to Belarusamid ongoing peaceful protests against last Sunday's disputed presidential election.

"Likewise, as the Kremlin tries to undermine yet another European country's sovereignty and independence, we strongly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's reckless offer to provide military assistance to the Lukashenko regime in Belarus," the congressmen said in a statement of August 17, 2020.

The officials said they stand with the people of Belarus as they continue to exercise their rights to protest and to demand a freer, more democratic country.

Read alsoEU does not recognize Belarus election results"We urge the Administration to continue to reject Moscow's aggression and to work with our European allies to support the Belarusian people, to demand the thousands of detained peaceful demonstrators and political prisoners are released, to condemn the Belarusian authorities' excessive use of violence, and to defend Belarus's sovereign right to chart its own future," reads the statement.

Belarus protests: developments

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.