UK rejects 'fraudulent' Belarus vote, warns of sanctions

LONDON • The United Kingdom said yesterday it did not recognise the “fraudulent” Belarus presidential vote which saw Mr Alexander Lukashenko re-elected and denounced the “grisly repression” of unprecedented protests over the result.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also threatened sanctions against those responsible and called for an independent international probe.

Mr Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, claimed victory in the Aug 9 election with 80 per cent of the vote, despite widespread opposition to his rule.

“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,” Mr Raab said.

He said any investigation into the election should be carried out by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“The UK will work with our international partners to sanction those responsible, and hold the Belarusian authorities to account,” said Mr Raab.

London’s statement follows a weekend of protests against the official election result in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered for a huge protest rally against Mr Lukashenko on Sunday, described by one news website as the largest in the history of Belarus.

Since the result was announced, there has been a violent police crackdown which has seen more than 6,700 people arrested, hundreds wounded and two people killed.

There have also been widespread strikes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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