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Ukraine 'Concerned' About Postelection Violence in Belarus


Policemen disperse a group of opposition protesters holding a picket in central Minsk.

Policemen disperse a group of opposition protesters holding a picket in central Minsk.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern about the use of violence against opposition demonstrators in Belarus following the December 19 presidential election.

KYIV -- The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern about the use of violence against opposition demonstrators in Belarus following the December 19 presidential election, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Foreign Ministry Information policy department head Oleh Voloshyn told journalists in Kyiv today that Ukraine will take into account the views of international observers in formulating its opinion about the Belarusian election.

At the same time, Voloshyn expressed concern about the postelection crackdown on demonstrators protesting alleged fraud:

"[We are] concerned about the disproportionate use of force against protestors and journalists, clashes between opposition members and law enforcers, and the detention of some candidates," Voloshyn said.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Monday December 20 that the Belarus election was "flawed" and "failed to give Belarus the new start it needed."

Tony Lloyd, who headed the short-term OSCE election observers, said that the Belarusian government must "account for the arrests of presidential candidates, journalists, and human rights activists."

However, one Ukrainian member of the OSCE election observation mission in Belarus said this is the view only of the OSCE leadership.

Oleksandr Stoyan, a parliament deputy from the ruling Party of Regions faction, told RFE/RL, "We were at the polling stations, the elections took place peacefully, each citizen had the right to express his view. The leaders of OSCE could have gathered us [election observers] and asked for our opinion. Unfortunately, there was no collective view."

Stoyan said he himself did not witness any violence in Minsk. He suggested that "some political forces provoked people, especially young people, to storm public buildings."

This is not a sign of democracy in any country, Stoyan added. He said he hoped that the Party of Regions will welcome the choice made by the Belarusian people.

Meanwhile former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, now an opposition lawmaker, said he does not believe the election in Belarus was democratic.

In an interview with RFE/RL, Tarasyuk expressed the hope that the European Union will preserve its sanctions against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other officials.

The EU has kept in place a travel ban on top Belarusian officials first introduced in 2006, but has suspended its application for the past two years.

Meeting with Lukashenka at the OSCE summit in Astana in early December, Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych wished him success in the upcoming presidential ballot, without mentioning the other candidates.
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