The European Union does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, the bloc’s diplomatic chief said on Tuesday a day after the ousted leader was welcomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, told the European Parliament on 9 August that returning the veteran strong man to power was fraudulent.
Mr Lukashenko has been protesting against his rule since the controversial vote and the widespread condemnation by the international community for the brutal crackdown on protesters by his security forces.
“The situation is clear to us. We consider the 9 August election fraudulent,”
“We do not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus.”
The EU has already said it does not recognize Lukashenko’s re-election as legitimate and is preparing sanctions against those responsible for voting and cracking down on protests.
Borrell said more than 7,500 peaceful protesters have been detained and 500 cases of torture have been documented.
But diplomats say EU sanctions against Belarus are being blocked by Cyprus, which is first demanding action against Turkey in a dispute over natural gas wells in the eastern Mediterranean.
Mr Borrell said EU credibility was at stake and called on member states to adopt the sanctions – which need a unanimous vote – before their summit in Brussels at the end of next week.
On Monday, Russia accepted a loan of 1.5 billion. Dollars with Minsk, President Putin said during talks with Alexander Lukashenko, and added that the Belarussian people should resolve the crisis without foreign interference.
Putin said he believed Lukashenko’s proposal to implement constitutional reforms was logical and timely.
Protests, some with violence, have gripped the country for five weeks since the vote with anti-Kremlin posters seen at some rallies.
Also on Monday, the UN Human Rights Council decided to host an urgent debate on reports of violence from the hands of the authorities during protests.