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Baltic States Urge New Election In Belarus, Call For EU Sanctions

Anti-Government Protesters March In Western Belarus
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WATCH: In the western Belarusian city of Hrodna, people marched in the streets on August 14 to protest against the presidential election, which is widely seen as rigged.

The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have called on Belarus to conduct a new, "free and fair" vote after the country's disputed August 9 presidential election.

The vote handed strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth term and sparked nationwide protests that have been brutally put down by security forces.

A new vote should be held "in a transparent way with the participation of international observers," the leaders said in a joint statement on August 15 after a meeting in the Estonian city of Tartu.

The three Baltic states urged Belarus to refrain from violence and release political prisoners and detained protesters.

They also called for European Union sanctions on those responsible for the violence.

The statement came as Belarus braces for massive weekend protests calling for the end of Lukashenka 26-year rule.

Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called for peaceful rallies on August 15-16, after she was forced to leave the country for neighboring Lithuania after disputing Lukashenka’s claim to a landslide victory.

Protests since the controversial election have witnessed unprecedented scenes on the streets of Minsk and other cities, energizing opposition to Lukashenka despite a brutal crackdown.

With reporting by Reuters
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