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PACE Urges Sanctions For 'Undemocratic' Belarus

22 October 2004 -- The pan-European rights watchdog the Council of Europe has slammed the Belarusian regime as "undemocratic," and called on its member states to slap "targeted sanctions" on the government.

In a communique, the president of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Peter Schieder, stressed that fundamental rights and freedoms are systematically violated with the sole goal of maintaining an "undemocratic regime" in power.

Belarusian election officials said yesterday nearly 80 percent of voters approved in the 17 October constitutional referendum allowing President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to indefinitely stay in power.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized sanctions against the country. "Sanctions cannot solve problems that arise in the world. We do not support the use of this instrument in relations between nations in principle," he said.

Lavrov's comments followed U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to sign into law a measure that imposes economic sanctions on the country.

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