Obama urges more pressure on Belarus’ Lukashenko

Pressure must be applied to the Belarusian authorities to put an end to political repression of the country’s opposition, U.S. President Barack Obama said during his visit to Poland on Saturday.

“President [Alexander] Lukashenko has shown a total disregard for democratic values, the rule of law and human rights of his own people,” Obama said during a speech in Warsaw that followed talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Lukashenko, who has been in power for 17 years, was reelected as the country’s president in a controversial vote last year amid large-scale opposition protests. More than 600 people were detained as police brutally dispersed demonstrators in the capital, Minsk, and dozens were subsequently jailed.

Obama said the situation in Belarus was “unacceptable.”

Tusk said in his turn that Poland fully shared Washington’s position and that Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime had no future in Europe.

On Friday, Obama said the United States was set to expand sanctions against Belarus for its leadership’s crackdown on the dissent, which he described as “a major step backward for democracy in Belarus.”

Obama’s statement came after four former Belarusian opposition presidential candidates were put in jail on charges of organizing mass protests during the December 9 elections, internationally viewed as rigged.

MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti)

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