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Statement of the MFA on the presidential elections in Belarus

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic expresses concern about the course of this year's presidential election in Belarus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic expresses concern about the course of this year's presidential election in Belarus.

We consider it unacceptable that a large number of people were detained before the vote in connection with the election campaigning and exercising of the right of assembly. Equally unacceptable are the actions of repressive forces against citizens protesting against the conduct and results of the elections. These facts are of concern and we call on the Belarussian Government to stop punishing its citizens for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Given the arrest of a potential presidential candidate, the popular blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, and the subsequent imprisonment of opposition candidate Viktar Babarika, who, like another candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, the Central Election Commission refused to register, the election cannot be called free and democratic. This conclusion is also confirmed by number of reports from the voting and counting process.

Despite the unequal conditions, Belarusian society has shown unprecedented interest in this election, as proven by both the mass attendance at the election meetings of candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and the turnout on election day. Such a strong call of the public for truly free elections cannot be ignored.

We find it regrettable that the proper functioning of the OSCE Election Observation Mission, the only credible international election monitoring organization in the region, has not been made possible. The Czech Republic fully respects and supports the independence and sovereignty of Belarus, but at the same time, will under all circumstances promote freedom of expression and assembly and equal political competition.

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