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Clinton: Belarus Must Free Political Prisoners

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Belarus has come under fresh pressure to introduce democratic reforms as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) both called for change.
Following a meeting with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Clinton told reporters that "we demand that Belarus release political prisoners and embark on the path of democratic reform."
Clinton was in Vilnius, which lies just 30 kilometers from the border with Belarus, for a meeting of the Community of Democracies, a Lithuanian-chaired grouping of more than a hundred nations.
She also met with activists from Belarus.
Meanwhile, the OSCE called on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to end the "unprecedented repression" of media following his reelection in December.
The OSCE's media freedom representative, Dunja Mijatovic, made the appeal in an open letter.
On July 1, Lukashenka said that he won't tolerate further protests which have spread as the country's financial crisis worsens.
Angered by soaring inflation, Belarusians have gathered for weekly rallies in cities this month. Lukashenka said that the protests aren't a reaction to economic hardship, but an attempt to destabilize the country.

"We cannot allow this," he said.
compiled from agency reports

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