Top Belarus official makes unplanned Lithuania visit

VILNIUS - Top-ranking Belarussian official Uladzimir Makei has made an unscheduled visit to Lithuania to meet with the president's office as the EU and US prepare to toughen sanctions against the Belarussian regime.

Lietuvos Rytas reported on Jan 27 that the official, who is the second after Lukashenka on the list of persons undesirable by the EU persons, earlier this week held a meeting with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite.

Grybauskaite's spokesman, Linas Balsys, was quoted as saying that the country used the opportunity to pressure Belarus over it's human rights record.

"The meeting was part of the series of diplomatic steps Lithuania has taken as the chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in order to protest got human rights and freedom of speech in Belarus," he told the paper.

Lithuania is one of Belarus' closest allies in the EU and may have been looking for support as the bloc looks to increase sanctions against the country fololowing a widely-criticised presidential election. The EU is looking at increasing the number of banned officials to 150.

Late last year Grybauskaite made a historic visit to Belarus - the first ever by a Lithuanian leader - in an attempt to urge the country to hold free and fair elections.


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