Baltic states and Poland mark Lukashenko's "massive electoral fraud"

The Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland issued a joint statement August 9 marking three years since Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko clung onto power via rigged presidential elections.

In Latvia's case, the statement was signed by Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, who is temporarily holding the Foreign Ministry's portfolio. The full text is reproduced below.

Three years ago, on 9 August 2020, Alexander Lukashenko proclaimed himself the winner of the rigged presidential election, thereby trampling on the democratic aspirations and rights of the Belarusian people. This criminal seizure of power by the illegitimate regime has since resulted in massive internal repression, complicity in the war crimes and the crime of aggression, rapid erosion of Belarus’ sovereignty, as well as destabilization of the region.

The massive electoral fraud sparked unprecedented wave of peaceful protests by the Belarusian people who demanded the freedom to choose their future. In response, the Belarusian authorities unleashed a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters and their supporters. For three years now, notwithstanding the firm condemnation by the international community, the Lukashenko’s regime has continued its steadily worsening inhumane repression. Human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, media workers, lawyers and ordinary citizens who express criticism of the system are labelled extremists and terrorists, persecuted, blackmailed, imprisoned; several have disappeared or been killed in the government's attempts to crush resistance to its illegitimate rule. National minorities’ organisations are likewise repressed, while the schools teaching in national minority languages have been closed. Political prisoners, whose numbers have increased to 1500, are subjected to inhumane treatment and even torture, while many are held isolated from any communication for months. The remaining activists have been forced to leave the country to avoid unjustified persecution.

Since February 2022 the Lukashenko regime has been acting as an accomplice and direct supporter of Russia's unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine. Ignoring the will of the vast majority of the Belarusian people, the regime grants Moscow full political and logistical support, allows it to use the Belarusian territory as a launchpad for its missiles, for the deployment of nuclear weapons, and recently accepted to host thousands of criminal Wagner mercenaries on its soil. Furthermore, Lukashenko’s regime is accomplice in the forced deportations of Ukrainian children, thus being directly complicit in the war crime to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

While Minsk regime cares only about its own survival, it continues to erode Belarus’ statehood, illegitimately and illegally, in contravention to the Belarusian people’s will, ceding its sovereignty to Russia.  Also, during these last three years, Belarus has been made into a true hotbed of destabilisation in the heart of Europe and poses an increasing threat to the international security. Lukashenko regime in Belarus continues to organise and contribute to activities that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders of third country nationals.

At this particularly painful moment in Belarusian history we continue to stand with its people, staying true to the commitment expressed in the historic motto “For our Freedom and Yours”. We believe in democratic, independent, and sovereign Belarus, as much as we believe in the victory of Ukraine. Our support to the people of Belarus, struggling for their freedom and dignity, will remain unwavering. We will continue supporting the democratic forces of Belarus, its leadership  as well as other representatives of the civil society that rally in pursuit of democratic changes in Belarus.

Authoritarian regimes will fail, and the tyrants will be brought to justice. We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, for the cessation of repressions and of complicity in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. While the repressions, breaches of international law, ongoing instrumentalisation of migration or other crimes persist, we will continue isolating the criminal and illegitimate Lukashenko’s regime and strengthening the EU’s targeted and sectorial sanctions against it.

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