Russia supports Belarusian Lukashenko's constitutional reforms

Russia has praised Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's proposals for constitutional change, citing "the best way to resolve extraordinary public protests against his 26-year rule."

Russia supports Belarusian Lukashenko's constitutional reforms

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Belarusian civil society groups to take part in the drafting of the country's new constitution on Tuesday.

In a question and answer session with students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Lavrov said, "If they want to get out of this crisis with a strong country and do not want to escalate the conflict, they should participate." ““We are seeing efforts to stop the situation."

Lukashenko, 66, has been staging tens of thousands of Belarusian protests every weekend since he won more than 80 percent of the vote in the sixth term on August 9, leading to allegations of fraud. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that he had agreed to send police reinforcements to help defuse unrest in Belarus if necessary and ruled out a review of the results of the presidential ballot.

The United States and the European Union have refused to accept Lukashenko's re-election.

Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, but Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya has called on Lukashenko to return to power. His proposal for constitutional change - which he has made in the past - has received little support from his critics.

On Monday, he announced a referendum on constitutional amendments focused on judicial reform. Lukashenko has rejected opposition demands for a return to the 1994 constitution, which was later amended’ to strengthen the presidency.

The Belarusian leader responded to mass arrests and brutal security crackdowns that failed to stop workers' protests and strikes. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Tuesday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

The Kremlin sees Belarus, home to 9.5 million sandwiches between Russia and three members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a key thief in the fight against’ aggression by the US-led military coalition.


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