MEPs call for Lukashenko condemnation

Members of the European parliament from the Law and Justice party have addressed a letter to the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek calling for tough measures to be taken against Belarus in the wake of the brutal police crackdown against opposition supporters and candidates in Minsk at the weekend.

In the view of MEPs Ryszard Legutko and Tomasz Poreba a resolution should be passed in parliament against what they describe as the Lukashenko regime's criminal actions.

The MEPs say the motion should be adopted at the forthcoming plenary session of the European Parliament.

In their letter to Mr Buzek, the Polish MEPs also say that an observatory mission of the European Parliament to Belarus should be prepared as soon as possible.

Opposition faces jail

Meanwhile, seventeen of those arrested on Sunday night, in what observers say was a heavy handed crackdown by Belarusian police, face prison sentences of up to 17 years imprisonment for public order offences.

The list of names in KGB detention centres includes opposition candidates Vladimir Neklyayev - who was badly beaten on Sunday night - Andrei Sannikov, Grigory Kostusev, Alexei Mikhalevich, Vitaly Rymashevsky and Nikolai Statkevich, plus Sannikov's wife, journalist Irina Khalip, the Belarusian Vesna human rights center informed, Wednesday.

Hundreds of opposition activists and journalists are also in jail.

Last night, Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, said he had reliable information that the election result - in which the official election committee said Alexander Lukashenko received close to 80 percent of the votes based on early returns - was "falsified" and Lukashenko could not have won by such a clear margin over other candidates, as is being claimed.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who had a team of observers in the country said that the vote count was "seriously flawed"

Polish MP Pawel Poncyljusz, who was in Minsk on Sunday, said that the counting procedure was being enacted behind closed doors and was not open to probing by independent observers or presidential candidates.

Governments from EU member states Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Lithunia, Slovakia and others have joined Poland in condemnation of the police crackdown.

In Washington, the White House has said it refuses to recognize the election results.

The furor following the election has seriously damaged Poland and Sweden's plan to draw Minsk closer to the EU, as part of the Eastern Partnership. Last night Foreign Minister Sikorski said that the imposition of sanctions has had limited effect on the Lukashenko regime in the past. (pg/mk)


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