Russia warns Washington against interfering in Belarus internal affairs
Russia warned the United States against interfering in the internal affairs of Belarus.
“Russia warns the United States and the EU against any form of interference in the internal affairs of Belarus, including open calls for anti-government demonstrations in some capitals,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, after a meeting between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan in Moscow. The Russian side also stressed that attempts to exert sanctions or political pressure on Minsk are unacceptable.
Bigan also met with Deputy Ministers Sergei Ryabkov and Igor Morgulov. The officials discussed issues of strategic stability and Russian-American cooperation to promote the settlement of the nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula, the statement said.
In an interview with the TV Channel Russia 1 after the meeting with Bigan, Lavrov said that the U.S. confirmed that it is not interested in creating an artificial crisis around the situation in Belarus. “They stressed their interest that all external players would contribute to the establishment of a dialogue between the government and the opposition. We said in response that we support this approach,” the minister said.
At the same time, Lavrov said that the Belarusian leadership and people should not seek mediators in their dialogue, “whether it be the OSCE, the EU, some separate neighboring country.”
Lavrov stressed that he drew the attention of American partners to the initiative of President Alexander Lukashenko to carry out constitutional reform, which he has repeatedly mentioned. Even before the elections in June, Lukashenko said he had been asked for changes to the Constitution, but he dismissed them as “insufficiently decisive.” After the protests began, Lukashenko recalled the reform and said that the new Basic Law would be adopted in a referendum. He allowed the transfer of presidential powers under the new Constitution, “but not under pressure or street riots.”
“I believe that the hand will be extended to all those who are interested in a stable, united Belarus. It, of course, should be noticed by the opposition and those of our Western partners who are now leading this opposition,” Lavrov commented on the initiative of Lukashenko.
Before the meeting in Moscow, Bigan visited Lithuania, where he met with former Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. After the talks, she said that she was ready for a dialogue on the peaceful transfer of power and stressed that the future of the Belarusian people should be determined by new and fair elections.
According to Lavrov, Bigan considered the meeting with Tikhanovskaya useful and noted that the U.S. sees opportunities for the opposition coordination council and authorities to enter into dialogue. “We have drawn the attention of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State S. Bigan to the fact that within Belarus, including opposition circles, there are many questions about how legitimate this coordination council is. Many of its members learned after the fact that they had been included. We would like to understand what are the political criteria on which this coordination council wants to function,” Lavrov said.
Tikhanovskaya announced the creation of a council for the transfer of power in the country on August 14. It was to include representatives of associations interested in dialogue, including worker organizations, parties, trade unions. On August 25, the Constitutional Court of Belarus declared the creation of the council illegal, as the Basic Law does not provide for rules allowing the creation of public organizations capable of reviewing the results of the presidential elections.
Tikhanovskaya’s office did not recognize the results of the presidential elections. According to the opposition headquarters, Tikhanovskaya won the elections. She and other candidates filed complaints with the Central Election Committee and demanded that the elections be invalidated because of fraud.