EU: We do not recognize Lukashenko as legitimate president

The European Union does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, the bloc's diplomatic chief said on Tuesday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the rogue leader.

EU: We do not recognize Lukashenko as legitimate president

The European Union's top envoy for foreign affairs, Giuseppe Borrell, told the European Parliament in the August 9 election that returning the veteran to power was a sham.

Lukashenko has faced strong opposition from the international community for his brutal crackdown on protesters by his security forces, and for his rule by the international community.

"The situation is clear to us. We call the August 9 election a fraud," Borrell told parliament.

"We do not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus."

The European Union (EU) has said in a statement that it does not approve of Lukashenko's election and is in the process of imposing sanctions on those responsible for rigging the vote and blocking protests.

More than 7,500 peaceful protesters have been detained’ and 500 incidents of violence have been documented’ Borrell said.

But diplomats say EU sanctions on Belarus are being blocked’ by Cyprus, which is demanding first steps against Turkey in the dispute over natural gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Borrell said the EU's reputation was in jeopardy and called on member states to pass sanctions - which require a unanimous vote - before their summit in Brussels next weekend.

On Monday, Russia agreed to a 1.5 billion loan with Minsk, and President Putin told Alexander Lukashenko that the people of Belarus should resolve the crisis without foreign intervention.

Putin said he believed Lukashenko's proposal for constitutional reform was logical and timely.

Demonstrations, some of which have been characterized’ by violence, have gripped the country for five weeks after anti-Kremlin placards were displayed at some rallies.

Also on Monday, the UN Rights Council agreed to host an urgent debate on reports of violence by authorities during the protests.


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