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Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic Recall Ambassadors From Belarus

Mass protests have erupted in Belarus against Alyaksandr Lukashenka since election officials declared he had won reelection on August 9. (file photo)

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia announced on October 8 that they are recalling their ambassadors from Minsk, following similar action by fellow EU countries Poland and the Baltic states over the disputed presidential election in Belarus.

The announcements came a day after Estonia and Latvia said they were recalling their ambassadors. Lithuania and Poland did so on October 5 after the government in Minsk recalled its ambassadors in Vilnius and Warsaw.

Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are all European Union members.

Belarus took the step in the wake of EU sanctions against Belarusian officials accused of election fraud and human rights abuses.

Belarusian authorities have accused Vilnius and Warsaw of backing the mass protests that have erupted against Alyaksandr Lukashenka since election officials declared he had won reelection on August 9 with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Opposition leaders and some former Belarusian election officials say the official tally was rigged in Lukashenka's favor.

"I have decided to recall our Head of Mission in #Minsk for consultations to Slovakia as (an) expression of solidarity with Lithuania and Poland," Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said on Twitter on October 8. "Steps taken by Belarus authorities against other EU member states are unacceptable. EU remains united in its support of [the] people of Belarus."

The Czech ambassador to Belarus will also be recalled to Prague for consultations "for a week or so," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Stichova told the CTK news agency.

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry said its ambassador to Minsk had announced his imminent departure "in a show of solidarity" with Lithuania and Poland.

Sofia also called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all the political prisoners" in Belarus, as well as for dialogue with the opposition with a view to holding free elections.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service and AFP
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