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Russia shares criticism of post-election crackdown in Belarus
Russia shares the European Union’s criticism of the Belarusian authorities’ post-election crackdown on opponents, Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Surikov said in an exclusive interview with BelaPAN.
“We share Europe’s opinion that the Belarusian state has gone to extremes after December 19,” said Mr. Surikov. “There are no precedents in the world for six candidates to be put in prison on some obscure grounds. Well, the grounds are obvious: they allegedly attempted to topple the government and were behind unsanctioned rallies. Elections are always a legal attempt to change the government. The authorities should be quite severe toward offenders, but they also should be able to forgive.”
The ambassador said that Russia had joined the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution condemning the Belarusian authorities’ post-election crackdown on opponents.
“If a similar resolution is put on the agenda with respect to the most recent peaceful protests [in Belarus], our representatives in international organizations will be given certain instructions,” he said.
At the same time, Mr. Surikov said, Russia firmly opposes attempts by the European Union and the United States to put pressure on Belarus through sanctions. High-ranking officials and judges are above all citizens and no travel restrictions should be imposed on them, “even if their behavior sometimes fails to meet fundamental democratic standards,” he said.
Mr. Surikov said that Russia approved of a re-engagement dialogue that began between Belarus and the European Union several years ago. “It is a pity that the dialogue collapsed,” he said.