The United States has condemned the “harassment” and expulsion of two British diplomats from Belarus this week amid a deterioration in relations between Minsk and Western capitals over a disputed presidential election and authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka's violent crackdown on postelection protests.
“This arbitrary and unjustified act by Belarusian authorities is only the latest attempt to hide the daily harassment and repression everyday Belarusians, including activists and members of the media, continue to face in their fight for democracy,” State Department spokesman Cale Brown said in a statement on November 11.
Brown also reiterated Washington’s call for Belarusian authorities to “cease their crackdown and heed the demands of the Belarusian people for free and fair elections under independent observation.”
The statement comes a day after Britain announced it had expelled two Belarusian diplomats following Minsk's “unjustified expulsion" of two U.K. diplomats. Belarus said it had expelled the pair on November 9 after they had engaged in "destructive" activities.
Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, has faced almost daily protests calling for his resignation since a presidential election on August 9 that the opposition says was rigged and that the West has refused to accept.
Thousands of people have been arrested since authorities declared Lukashenka the landslide winner of the vote. Most of the country's opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country.
Lukashenka has called the protesters and members of the opposition Western "puppets."
In response to the crackdown and “falsification” of the presidential vote, the United States, Britain, and the European Union have imposed sanctions on dozens of Belarusian officials, including Lukashenka.
U.S. Condemns 'Arbitrary' Expulsion Of U.K. Diplomats From Belarus
'Messianic' Putin Fell Victim To His Own Propaganda, Says Veteran Journalist2
Putin, Medvedev Combine Spin With Threats On Anniversary Of Unilateral Annexations In Ukraine3
U.S. Urges Serbia To Pull Back Large Military Deployment Along Border With Kosovo4
As Armenia And Azerbaijan Seek Peace, Proposed Zangezur Corridor Could Be Major Sticking Point5
War In Ukraine Poses 'Terrible Threat' For Russia's Saami People, But Solutions Are Few6
Controversial New Russian History Textbook Opens Old Wounds In North Caucasus7
Pristina Says Evidence Shows Serbia Planned To Sieze Northern Kosovo After Attack8
Ukraine Says Its Forces Repelled Attacks, Inflicted Losses Across Front Line9
Live Briefing: Russia Invades Ukraine10
Russia's Harsh Prison System Is 'A Bottomless Reservoir Of Mercenaries,' Says Rights Advocate