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‘Open interference’: Belarus warns against inclusion of opposition figure Tikhanovskaya in meeting of EU foreign ministers

‘Open interference’: Belarus warns against inclusion of opposition figure Tikhanovskaya in meeting of EU foreign ministers
Belarus has warned the EU not to include opposition figurehead and former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in an upcoming meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers, saying it would amount to open interference.

“It is quite obvious, in fact, that such actions, if any, are an impudent and open interference in the internal affairs” of Belarus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said on Saturday, as reported by the Sputnik news agency. Such a move by the European Union would show “complete disrespect” for the country’s citizens, he added.

Glaz's comments came in response to Russian news reports that Tikhanovskaya was expected to take part in the meeting, scheduled for September 21.

If Tikhanovskaya does participate in the event, Glaz warned it would become clear that an attempt to “undermine Belarus’ sovereignty is being implemented” by the EU. He said Minsk's position on the matter had been communicated to Brussels. 

Also on rt.com Opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya uses United Nations appearance to demand immediate foreign intervention in Belarus

Russia's Foreign Ministry also weighed in, with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying that Moscow would consider such a decision by the EU as “more evidence” that the EU was departing from its “earlier statements about the absence of geopolitics” in the crisis.

Earlier this week, the exiled former presidential candidate, who fled to Lithuania following August’s contested election, called on the “international community” to intervene in Belarus. Speaking in a short video message to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Tikhanovskaya said the world must respond to events in Belarus “in the strongest terms” and that the opposition was demanding “free and fair elections,” as well as the release of all “political prisoners.”

Belarus was thrust into crisis on August 9 after longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory with more than 80 percent of the votes, in what the opposition insists was a rigged election contest. The result sparked weeks of mass protests, with thousands taking to the streets and police responding with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. Lukashenko has accused opposition figures of being in cahoots with foreign meddlers intent on seeing him replaced.

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