Belarus's Lukashenko a 'brutal tyrant', says McCain

VILNIUS (AFP) - US Republican Senator John McCain on Friday dubbed Belarus's strongman President Alexander Lukashenko "a ruthless, oppressive, brutal tyrant" who was on the "wrong side of history".

"We will continue to urge for further sanctions from the entire European Union and United States against Mr. Lukashenko and his corrupted regime," McCain said in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

He was speaking in the Lithuanian parliament where he met with exiled Belarussian students in a show of solidarity with victims of Lukashenko's crackdown on pro-democracy forces.

Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman and a delegation of US congressmen also attended.

On Monday, the European Union and United States slapped a new raft of sanctions -- including a travel ban and asset freezes -- on Lukashenko and 157 associates as punishment for the crackdown on opponents protesting a December 19 election that saw him win a fourth presidential term.

His opponents in the ex-Soviet state said the re-election of Lukashenko -- in power since 1994 -- was rigged. International observers pointed to numerous irregularities.

Hundreds of protestors remain jailed in Minsk's infamous KGB prison.


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