Russian PM to visit Belarus amid crisis – World – Chinadaily.com.cn

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (right) shakes hands with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting in Minsk, Belarus on July 17, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin was scheduled to visit Belarus for talks on Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko faces the biggest political crisis of his 26 years in power.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, who was in Moscow for talks on Wednesday, told reporters that Russia’s stance on the political crisis in Belarus was helping to prevent outside meddling in the country, Reuters reported.

Makei said he thought the situation was stabilizing.

Russia on Tuesday lambasted proposed sanctions by the European Union on Belarus, saying the bloc’s stance violates the principle of non-interference into other countries’ domestic affairs. An informal meeting of EU foreign ministers was held in Berlin on Aug 27-28.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the looming sanctions “illegitimate” and “unilateral”.

“The current developments in Belarus were discussed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers. Unfortunately, we note that the European Union did not refrain from attempts to influence the situation in this fraternal country,” Zakharova said.

“Instead of restraint and tact necessary to provide conditions for a broad nationwide dialogue, the preference was given to illegitimate unilateral sanctions.”

Conflict in 3rd week

The conflict between opposition forces and the Belarusian government is now in its third week, after Lukashenko won a sixth term in the presidential election. Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and has shown no sign of backing down, despite the EU’s having flagged sanctions against his government.

Zakharova said Russia hopes that the EU will put its foreign policy in line with the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of sovereign states and other basic principles of the broader European security.

She added that Moscow has noticed increasingly loud calls for a ramping-up in financial support for opposition networks, including those receiving backing from neighboring European countries.

On Friday, Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said top diplomats of the EU members had agreed on a list of Belarusian officials who will be sanctioned by the bloc. The list is expected to be approved soon.

On Monday, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia-all EU and NATO members-imposed travel bans on Lukashenko and 29 other Belarusian officials.

The United States is also considering sanctions on seven individuals “that are involved in falsifying the election and in violence against protesters”, according to a Reuters report.

Lukashenko said on Tuesday that his country will make a tough response to the sanctions.

“They got too self-indulgent and forgot what Belarus is. They thought they could bend us over and scare us with tanks and missiles,” he said.

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