Council of the EU says Belarusian presidential elections were neither free nor fair

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The FINANCIAL — On 12 October, the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on the EU’s response to the recent developments in Belarus. The Council said that “the 9 August presidential elections were neither free nor fair” and that “Aleksandr Lukashenko lacks any democratic legitimacy.” It reiterated its full support for Belarus’s sovereignty and independence, underlining the democratic right of the Belarusian people to express their will through free and fair elections.

The Council said it “strongly condemns the violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters”, and called for “the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners”.

The conclusions recalled the restrictive measures imposed on 40 individuals responsible for the fraudulent nature of the presidential elections and the violent crackdown on peaceful protests. The Council said that the EU was ready to take further restrictive measures against entities and high-ranking officials, including Aleksandr Lukashenko, if the situation did not improve.

The EU added that it would “scale down bilateral cooperation with the Belarusian authorities at central level, increase its support for the Belarusian people and civil society, and recalibrate its bilateral financial assistance accordingly”.  In line with that, the EU has made available additional financial resources for victims of violence, civil society organisations and independent media.

The Council called on the Belarusian authorities to engage in an inclusive national dialogue, adding that it stood ready to support a “peaceful democratic transition, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus”.

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