Politics, Europe

Merkel, Putin discuss Belarus over phone

German chancellor says Belarusian president Lukashenko should initiate dialogue with opposition

AyhanSimsek   | 18.08.2020
Merkel, Putin discuss Belarus over phone

BERLIN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the recent political crisis in Belarus over the phone, her spokesman said on Tuesday.

Steffen Seibert said in a press release that the two leaders discussed the latest situation in Belarus after the presidential elections held in Aug. 9.

“The chancellor has emphasized that the Belarusian government must refrain from using violence against peaceful demonstrators, release political prisoners immediately and initiate a national dialogue with the opposition and society in order to overcome the crisis,” he said.

In a separate statement, the Kremlin said the two leaders had “an in-depth discussion to focus on the developments in Belarus in the wake of the presidential election.”

“The Russian side stressed that any attempts to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs from the outside leading to a further escalation of the crisis would be unacceptable,” the statement said.

Both Merkel and Putin expressed hope that the situation returns to normal as soon as possible, it added.

EU’s leading nations rejected this week the result of the Belarusian presidential election, as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding a new, fair election.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said on Monday that she is "ready to lead the nation" through a transitional period in order to end the unrest and organize "in the shortest terms" a new "fair and open presidential election".

Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, officially won the election with 80.1% of votes. His main rival Tikhanovskaya scored only 10.12%, according to the Central Election Commission.

Lukashenko refused to hold a new voting, saying "you won't see me doing anything under pressure".

*Elena Teslova contributed to this story from Moscow.


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