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Pro-Lukashenko Rally - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Putin Tells Italian PM Any Interference in Belarus' Internal Affairs Counterproductive

A rally in support of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was held in rainy Minsk on Tuesday evening, while the opposition supporters gathered in another part of the capital.

The pro-Lukashenko rally took place near the Kamarouski market. It started at 7:00 p.m. (16:00 GMT) and lasted an hour and a half. According to the Belarus Interior Ministry, about 17,000 people, many of whom were carrying national flags and participated in the rally despite the rain.

"There were no more than 4,800 people at protests that took place in different regions. The largest number of the protesters was seen in Minsk, Brest and Molodechno," the ministry said.

Over the weekend, more than 100,000 protesters had convened in the capital for the second Sunday in a row demanding the president's ouster and smaller demonstrations were reported in provincial cities, according to opposition-leaning media.

Loudspeakers broadcast patriotic songs. People’s artists of Belarus, who performed songs during the rally, and ordinary demonstrators addressed the crowd, speaking up on the latest developments.

The rally ended with the crowd singing the national anthem. At that moment, the facade of the market building lit up in the colours of the national flag. No police reinforcements were seen in the area.

Mass protests broke out in Belarus after the August 9 election; incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko announced that he'd won his sixth term, with 80.1 percent of the vote. The country's opposition refused to recognise the results, claiming that the election was rigged.

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22:08 GMT 26.08.2020

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said that he had discussed the situation in protests-torn Belarus as well as other security issues during the bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg arrived in Berlin for a two-day official visit to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and join the EU defense ministers’ informal meeting. During the visit, he also held a meeting with Borrell.

“I thank @jensstoltenberg for his presence with EU defence ministers today. EU-@NATO cooperation remains crucial. In our bilateral meeting we also discussed the situation in Belarus, in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and @EUNAVFOR_MED but also Afghanistan and Iraq,” Borrell wrote on his Twitter page on late Wednesday.

20:56 GMT 26.08.2020

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Wednesday called on the Belarusian authorities to accept the OSCE proposal to send its current and future chairpersons to assist the domestic political process.

On 17 August, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, the current and incoming OSCE chairpersons-in-office, offered to come to Belarus to meet with the government and the opposition.

"We support the Albanian OSCE chairmanship-in-office proposal to support dialogue in Belarus by a joint visit with the incoming OSCE chairperson-in-office, Sweden. We call on the Belarusian authorities to accept this proposal without delay. We call on all other OSCE participating states to support this proposal as well," Borrell and Champagne said in a statement.

17:23 GMT 26.08.2020
15:58 GMT 26.08.2020

The ambassadors of the United States and the European Union on Wednesday welcomed Serbia's alignment with the EU declaration on the Belarusian presidential election.

"I welcome [Serbia] for joining [the European Union's] Declaration on Presidential Elections in Belarus," EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi tweeted.

His sentiment has been echoed by his US counterpart, Anthony Godfrey.

"Nice to see that Serbia stands with its European surrounding," Godfrey tweeted.

A wave of protests that has swept Belarus in the wake of the presidential election, in which Lukashenko won over 80 percent of the vote, according to official figures. Over 6,700 people have been detained during just the first several days of protests, according to official figures, and hundreds have been injured, including more than 150 law enforcement officers.

13:25 GMT 26.08.2020

Searches are underway in the Minsk house of former contender for Belarusian presidency Valery Tsepkalo, a spokesperson for his campaign said on Wednesday.

"Veronika [the spouse] had a phone call with the relatives looking after the house," the spokesperson said, adding "Yes, searches are underway at the moment."

Tsepkalo's bid to register as a presidential candidate was rejected by the election watchdog. He is currently facing a criminal case in Belarus over alleged bribery. Tsepkalo and his family exiled in Poland.

11:44 GMT 26.08.2020

The Kremlin will not give any assessments to events in Belarus, considering it equivalent to interference in another country's sovereign affairs, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"In this case, giving any assessments to what is taking place [in Belarus] or giving any assessments to actions of [Belarusian] law enforcement, whose function is to preserve law and order, would amount to interference in the domestic affairs of our neighboring, allied Belarus. We will not do this," Peskov said at a briefing.

11:44 GMT 26.08.2020

An interagency commission was created under the auspices of the Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office to check on allegations of the excessive use of force in response to protests, the Minsk jurisdiction said on Wednesday.

"Subdivisions of the Investigative Committee continue to conduct pre-investigation checks on the applications of citizens about the use of physical force and special means during mass events ... Each such check is taken under the control of the prosecutor's office. In order to coordinate and support the work on studying the circumstances set forth in the relevant appeals, an interdepartmental commission has been created under the auspices of the prosecutor's office," the Prosecutor General’s office said in a statement.

According to the statement, this commission includes representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office, the Investigative Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Committee for Forensic Expertise. Lawmakers of the lower house of parliament of the republic will also take part in the work of the commission.

The press service added that the purpose of the pre-investigation checks is "to objectively, fully and comprehensively understand the situation," to establish the presence or absence of signs of crimes in the actions of law enforcement officers and units during the arrest, delivery and detention of citizens.

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