Belarus abuses require 'strongest' response: opposition leader to UN

Belarusian opposition supporters gather for a protest rally in Minsk on Aug. 17 2020. Strikes grew across Belarus raising the pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to step down after 26 years in power

Belarus will close its borders with European Union neighbours Poland and Lithuania and step up security measures at the Ukrainian frontier, President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Thursday (17 September).

Kolesnikova, who became one of the faces of the mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko that began after a disputed presidential election in August, is now in prison in the country's capital Minsk.

After that meeting, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the opposition candidate whose supporters say she was the true victor of last month's election, said no agreement reached by Lukashenko with Putin would be valid.

"I do not want my country to go to war. Moreover, I don't want Belarus and Poland, Lithuania to turn into a theatre of military operations where our issues will not be resolved", Lukashenko said.

Commenting on Lukashenko's statements late on Thursday, the Polish side said the situation at the border had remained unchanged.

As Kuleba emphasized, the aspirations of the Belarusian society are linked exclusively with the enforcement of fundamental democratic freedoms, while the violent reaction of the country's authorities to this peaceful request does not correspond to the universal obligations of the states to protect human rights. "If Western countries value such notions as democracy, worldwide law, and laws, they should take measures to make responsible those in the European Parliament, who initiate such decisions", Vyacheslav Volodin added.

During a ferocious protest crackdown in the first few days after the August 9 presidential election, almost 7,000 people were arrested and hundreds were injured.

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Security officials claimed that an explosive device, which Taraikovsky was preparing to throw at security police, blew up prematurely in his hands, killing him. However, Associated Press video showed he was not holding any explosives when he fell to the ground, his shirt bloodied.

In a new strategy to stem Sunday rallies that drew up to 200,000 people to the streets of Minsk to denounce the government, the Belarusian Prosecutor General's office said it has tracked down parents who took their children to opposition demonstrations.

In addition to providing a $1.5 billion loan, the Russian president also signaled support for Lukashenko by saying defense cooperation would continue between the two countries.

The US embassy in Kiev said the US army-led Rapid Trident exercises, taking place near Yavoriv in western Ukraine, would involve about 4,000 servicemen from 10 countries.

While the European Parliament's vote is not legally binding, it carries political weight and can influence how the EU invests in Belarus or grants support.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Wednesday he hopes his repeated calls will be heeded for an inclusive political dialogue among Belarusians.

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