Belarus election: UK refuses to recognise result and demands international investigation into 'grisly repression' of protests

Dominic Raab says UK will work to sanction 'those responsible'

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 17 August 2020 10:16 BST
Police and protesters clash after Belarus presidential vote

The British government does not recognise the result of Belarus's contested presidential election, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Dominic Raab called for an international investigation into the "grisly repression" of protesters by state security forces controlled by Alexander Lukashenko and branded the contest "fraudulent".

Mr Lukashenko has rejected any possibility of re-running the poll that gave him his sixth presidential term since 1994, despite widespread demonstrations against the result.

Lashing out at the West, the president declared his country would "perish as a state" if the election was held again.

Commenting on the result on Monday morning, Mr Raab said: "The world has watched with horror at the violence used by the Belarusian authorities to suppress the peaceful protests that followed this fraudulent presidential election.

"The UK does not accept the results. We urgently need an independent investigation through the OSCE into the flaws that rendered the election unfair, as well as the grisly repression that followed.

"The UK will work with our international partners to sanction those responsible, and hold the Belarusian authorities to account."

State television staff in the eastern European country were the latest to walk out on strike in protest at the result and censorship of their coverage.

But Mr Lukashenko remained defiant this morning, amid reports that some 6,700 people have been arrested in the wake of the election.

Over the weekend an opposition rally in the capital Minsk drew tens of thousands of people, described as the largest in the country's history. A presidential rally appeared to draw significantly lower numbers.

Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has suggested she could act as an interim leader.

The country's Central Election Commission said Mr Lukashenko had won 80.1 per cent of the vote to Ms Tikhanovskaya - 10.12 per cent.

The opposition candidate is currently in Lithuania and has publicly denounced the results.

"You came here so that for the first time in a quarter-century you could defend your country, your independence, your wives, sisters and children," the president told the rally of his supporters.

He said the opposition would "crawl like rats out of a hole" if they were not suppressed.

EU leaders are planning to meet on Wednesday to discuss events in the country. European Council president Charles Michel said that “the people of Belarus have the right to decide on their future and freely elect their leader”.

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