The European Union does not recognize embattled leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka as the legitimate president of Belarus, the bloc's top diplomat said on September 15.
High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that the August 9 election which returned the strongman to power was fraudulent.
The Belarusian opposition, led by Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, accuses Lukashenka of rigging the election, which handed him a sixth term with 80 percent of the vote.
Since then, thousands of people have been detained and beaten by police while nearly all the opposition's key leaders have been forced to leave the country or been arrested in a widening crackdown condemned by the United States and European Union.
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'The situation is clear for us. We consider the elections of August 9 fraudulent,' Borrell told the European lawmakers.
'We don't recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate president of Belarus.'
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (file photo)
More than 7,500 peaceful protesters have been detained and 500 cases of torture have been documented, Borrell said.
The EU has already said it does not recognize Lukashenka's reelection as legitimate. The 27-member bloc is preparing sanctions against those it deems responsible for rigging the election and cracking down on protests.
But diplomats say the EU sanctions on Belarus are being blocked by Cyprus, which is demanding measures against Turkey first in a dispute over natural gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
Borrell urged member states to pass the sanctions -- which need a unanimous vote -- before a summit next week in Brussels.
Based on reporting by AFP and AP
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