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Historical white-red-white flags of Belarus are seen as people attend an opposition demonstration to protest against presidential election results, in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus August 18, 2020. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Situation in Belarus Politicised But Not Disastrous, President Lukashenko Says

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On Wednesday, the European Union refused to recognise the outcome of the elections in Belarus and threatened to "impose shortly sanctions on a substantial number of individuals responsible for violence, repression and election fraud".

EU sanctions on Belarus would take weeks to come into force, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous EU official. According to the official, the EU does not wish to see the same scenario in Belarus that happened in Ukraine six years ago that could "tilt the geopolitical balance for Belarus between Russia and the EU".

Mass opposition protests broke out across Belarus following a presidential election on 9 August which saw incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko re-elected for a sixth term. While according to the electoral authorities Lukashenko collected over 80 percent of the vote, the opposition insists that his key contender, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, won the election.

Police cracked down on protesters during the first few days of the unrest, but have since halted the excessive use of force.

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Table of contents
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21:45 GMT 21.08.2020
US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun Will Visit Russia, Lithuania Soon to Discuss Crisis in Belarus, Reuters Reports
18:35 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarusian Interior Ministry Says Never Confirmed to UN Death of 4 People at Protests

The Belarusian Interior Ministry did not confirm to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) the deaths of four people at the protests, the ministry's spokeswoman, Olga Chemodanova, said on Friday.

"I tell you unequivocally: we have not confirmed such information. And no one has contacted me personally as an official spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs", Chemodanova said.

She also noted that the Investigative Committee was in charge of confirming or denying such information in Belarus.

18:12 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarus Traffic Police Chief Reports 8 Car Ramming Attacks on Security Officers During Protests

"From 9 [August] to the present day, eight rammings were made against employees of the internal affairs bodies, 12 people were injured. The severity of the injuries is being determined by the doctors, our employees are being treated", Chief of the Traffic Police of Belarus Dmitry Korzyuk said in his video address posted on the Interior Ministry's Telegram channel.

According to the official, all suspected drivers have been identified, and almost all of them have been detained. As of now, the authorities are investigating these criminal cases, Korzyuk said, noting that all those responsible will be brought to justice in accordance with the legislation.

17:42 GMT 21.08.2020
Lavrov Tells Swedish Foreign Minister Imposition of Decisions on Minsk Unacceptable

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conversation with his Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde, stressed the unacceptability of imposing any mediation efforts or ready-made solutions on Minsk, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The conversation took place earlier in the day at the initiative of the Swedish side.

"The ministers exchanged views on the situation in Belarus, including in the context of the initiative of the current Albanian and future Swedish OSCE chairmanships to establish a dialogue between the Belarusian authorities and representatives of the opposition. The Russian side stressed the unacceptability of imposing any mediation efforts or ready-made solutions on Minsk", the ministry said.

The parties noted agreed that any attempts to dictate to the Belarusian society which forces should personify the opposition of Belarus within the framework of the proposed inclusive dialogue with the authorities were unacceptable.

"It is fundamentally important to allow Belarusians to independently understand the complex internal political processes, including taking into account the constitutional reform proposed by President Alexander Lukashenko", the ministry added.

17:41 GMT 21.08.2020
Putin, Finnish President Discuss Situation in Belarus, Kremlin Says

"When discussing the situation in Belarus, Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the well-known Russian position, emphasizing, in particular, the unacceptability of interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and attempts to exert external pressure on the legitimate authorities. Both sides expressed interest in early normalization of the situation in the republic", the Kremlin's statement says.

17:40 GMT 21.08.2020
Number of Attempts to Smuggle Foreign Currency Into Belarus Increased in August, Customs Authorities Say

"Over 20 days of August 2020, 51 cases [of smuggling foreign currency] totalling more than $300,000, seized in terms of exceeding the amount allowed for movement across the customs border without declaring, have already been detected. These figures are four times higher than those for August 2019", Belarus' State Customs Authorities said in a press release.

17:39 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarus Authorities Should Urgently Release All Unlawfully Detained Protesters, OHCHR Says

"We remain seriously concerned that over 100 people are reportedly still detained, including approximately 60 individuals who are accused of criminal acts, which could carry heavy prison sentences, in connection with their participation in largely peaceful demonstrations", UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Liz Throssell said. "We call on the authorities in Belarus to immediately release all those who have been unlawfully or arbitrarily detained and to stop detaining people for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and to freedom of peaceful assembly".”

OHCHR is particularly concerned about the fate of at least eight protesters who have disappeared after the start of demonstrations on 9 August, Throssell said, adding that Belarus must promptly inform family members and legal representatives about the detainees’ whereabouts.

Throssell also noted that the UN agency is disturbed that no action has been taken to probe reports of alleged large-scale torture of people during arrests and in detention.

"We reiterate the call made last week by the High Commissioner for prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations. These include the deaths of four people as a result of injuries they sustained during the protests", the spokesperson said.

17:38 GMT 21.08.2020
EU Backs OSCE Proposals on Resolving Crisis in Belarus, Hopes for Russia's Support, EEAS Says

"The European Union stands ready to contribute to efforts to facilitate a peaceful and constructive way out of the crisis. In this regard, the EU fully supports OSCE proposals for dialogue in Belarus and is ready to provide assistance to further them if required. As an OSCE Member State, the High Representative hoped that Russia could have a positive influence in supporting such proposals", European External Action Service said in a statement.

17:38 GMT 21.08.2020
Estonian, Finnish Presidents Discuss Situation in Belarus
17:37 GMT 21.08.2020
Lukashenko Warns Striking Belaruskali Workers May Be Replaced by Ukrainian Miners

"We have 2,000 people in [the city of] Salihorsk who want to work for Belaruskali. They will come. If they do not come, there is unemployment all over the world. Miners will come from Ukraine. There are a lot of them, unemployed people", Lukashenko said, as quoted by the Belta state-run news agency.

13:29 GMT 21.08.2020
EU Fully Supports OSCE Proposals for Dialogue in Belarus, Ready to Back Their Promotion, External Action Service Says

"The European Union stands ready to contribute to efforts to facilitate a peaceful and constructive way out of the crisis. In this regard, the EU fully supports OSCE proposals for dialogue in Belarus and is ready to provide assistance to further them if required. As an OSCE Member State, the High Representative hoped that Russia could have a positive influence in supporting such proposals", European External Action Service said in a statement.

13:23 GMT 21.08.2020
Lukashenko on Macron's Mediation Offer: Let Me Help You With Yellow Vests First

"Macron wants to be a mediator in talks in Belarus. Let me go there first and be a mediator between the yellow vests and Macron. The situation there is — God forbid", Lukashenko said according to a video published on social networks.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gestures as he delivers a speech during a rally of his supporters near the Government House in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus August 16, 2020 - Sputnik International
'Let Me Help You With Yellow Vests First': Watch Lukashenko Respond to Macron's Mediation Offer
11:52 GMT 21.08.2020
Lukashenko Says Tikhanovskaya Was Transported to Lithuania With His Help

"On her request. She is a regular woman, she loves her children", Lukashenko said as quoted by the Belta news agency, adding that she "needed help to move abroad."

Lukashenko said that Tikhanovskaya was then "covered in a web" by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and special services.

11:52 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarusian Official Refutes Reports of Gov't Plans to Freeze Foreign Currency Transactions

Earlier in the day, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolay Snopkov said he was certain that the country's national bank had enough reserves to ensure "stability on the foreign currency market."

11:51 GMT 21.08.2020
Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministers Hold Talks on Situation in Belarus After Election

MINSK (Sputnik) - Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a telephone conversation on Friday on the situation in Belarus and the prospects of restoring the unhindered crossing of the border, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.

"The foreign ministries' heads exchanged views on the development of the post-election situation in Belarus, Western partners' reaction and cooperation within the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe", the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the statement, Lavrov and Makei also discussed the Russian-Belarusian cooperation, including "the prospects of restoring the unhindered crossing of the joint border, which was closed some time ago due to the coronavirus."

Lavrov "firmly condemned" foreign attempts to interfere in Belarus' domestic affairs and expressed support for the country's sovereignty and independence, the ministry added.

10:55 GMT 21.08.2020
President Lukashenko Says Unrest in Belarus Masterminded by US With Europe's Assistance

"The US is directing all of this [the protests] and the Europeans are following the lead. They do as they are told. They created a special centre near Warsaw. We know what they are up to...You see, it is no coincidence that tanks started moving and planes started flying when there is unrest nearby", Lukashenko told factory workers at the Dzerzhinsky plant.

10:42 GMT 21.08.2020
Situation in Belarus Politicised But Not Disastrous, President Lukashenko Says

MOSCOW, (Sputnik) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also said he would resolve the situation in the country in the coming days.

"Someone does not like [the situation] in Misnk or elsewhere. It is understandable. But you should not worry. It is my problem, I must solve it, and we are solving it. And trust me, we will solve this in the next few days", Lukashenko said as quoted by Belta news agency.

10:04 GMT 21.08.2020
Ukraine Increases Security Along Border With Belarus Over Unrest

KIEV (Sputnik) - Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service has enhanced patrol of its border with Belarus due to the ongoing unrest there, media reported on Friday, citing an agency official.

“We are guarding the border with Belarus in an enhanced way, since the situation in that country is rather turbulent. We switched to an enhanced regime after the beginning of the escalation of the situation in Belarus”, Border Guard Service Spokesman Andriy Demchenko said, as reported by Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform.

According to Demchenko, the situation along the border with the northern neighbour is calm and no movement of the Belarusian military has been observed.

The spokesman added that all seven border crossings between the two countries are open with an average daily capacity of 4,000-5,000 people. 

 

09:58 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarus' Opposition Figure Tikhanovskaya Reiterates Call for New Transparent Election in Belarus

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stressed that violence should end in her country and a new transparent election should be held.

"Belarus has woken up. Hundreds of thousands of people are going out to the streets in cities and villages to say 'go away'. Thousands of workers have declared strikes to say 'it is enough', stop lying and threatening us, stop the arbitrariness and violence. Violence should end, political prisoners should be released, and a new election should be held, it should be free, fair and transparent. This is what the Belarusian people want, their demands should be heard", Tikhanovskaya said at a press conference.

The politician reiterated her call on all the global powers to respect Belarusian sovereignty.

"I believe that the people will be heard, we have always been told that the president [Alexander Lukashenko] loves the country and the people. I believe what he sees now is a clear indication that people want changes. I hope very much that common sense will prevail, the people will be heard, they [the government] will agree to talk, and a new, transparent and fair election will be held", Tikhanovskaya said.

09:40 GMT 21.08.2020
EU Expects Belarus to Stop Criminal Probe Against Opposition Coordination Council

"The Coordination Council, which consists of representatives of different parts of Belarusian society, reached out to the authorities for a dialogue and the authorities answered with the opening of a criminal case. In doing so, the Belarusian state authorities have once again reverted to intimidation based on political grounds. Civil society and actors engaged in discussions on the future of Belarus must be protected from arbitrary arrest and violence. We expect the Belarusian authorities to stop the criminal case and instead to engage in a dialogue in view of moving towards a peaceful way out of the current crisis, in full respect of the Belarusian people’s democratic and fundamental rights", EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Nabila Massrali said.

The EU reiterates its call on the Belarusian government to abstain from violence and launch "an inclusive national dialogue", the spokesperson added.

"Only a peaceful and democratic process can provide sustainable solutions. It is important that the Belarusian authorities provide the conditions and a safe space for dialogue", Massrali said.

09:26 GMT 21.08.2020
Certain Statements by Western Officials Could Almost Be Qualified as Meddling, Belarusian Parliament Leaders Say in Address to EU Colleagues

MINSK (Sputnik) - The speakers of both chambers of the Belarusian Parliament have addressed their colleagues in parliaments across the EU, calling certain statements made by Western officials unacceptable and close to meddling, the press service of the upper chamber said Friday.

The speakers underscored it was "unacceptable that a number of Euroatlantic officials made extremely important political statements and conclusions regarding our country, some of which are borderline meddling in internal affairs".

09:22 GMT 21.08.2020
Belarus' Opposition Figure Tikhanovskaya Calls for Continued Strikes to Demand New Elections

MINSK (Sputnik) - Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main Belarusian presidential contender from the opposition, urged the country's workers in a new video address released on Friday to keep demanding a new presidential election through continued strikes and rallies.

"My dear Belarusians, employees of Belaruskali, MTZ, Grodnoazot and other enterprises, you are a symbol of the new free Belarus ... The future of Belarus, and, therefore, the future of our children now depends on your unity and your determination. Therefore, I ask you to continue and expand the strikes", Tikhanovskaya said.

According to the opposition figure, the goals are simple — to "release political prisoners" and hold new elections.

On Thursday, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said that all of the country’s industrial facilities and state-owned enterprises functioned as normal, notwithstanding what he described as staged protests. According to the official, the turnout at the protests at such facilities was disproportionately lower than the size of their workforce.

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