Germany calls Belarus post-election violence a "serious setback"

Berlin - Germany condemned Belarus on Monday for its wide-ranging crackdown on government opponents, after a presidential election at the weekend returned Aleksander Lukashenko to power.

'The German government calls for the immediate release of arrested opposition politicians and media representatives,' said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

He said the way in which authorities had dealt with the election and its results were 'a test for further relations between the European Union and Belarus.'

'In this context the events of the last hours are a serious setback. They rule out any further convergence at present,' Seibert said of EU relations with Belarus.

The spokesman said it was 'regrettable' that Belarus was rejecting an EU offer to provide billions of euros in aid, if the elections were conducted in a fair manner.

Uniformed police and plain clothes KGB agents arrested more than 1,000 members of the opposition after the election, authorities and opposition leaders confirmed.


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