Lukashenko, Putin Discuss Belarus Protests: State News Agency

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko discussed the protests shaking his country with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported.

“The presidents discussed the situation that is unfolding inside and around Belarus,” Belta reported, citing Lukashenko’s press service.

Earlier on Saturday, Lukashenko said Saturday he wanted to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin as protests grew over a disputed election.

“The aggression against Belarus is developing. We need to contact Putin, the president of Russia, so that I can talk with him now,” Lukashenko said in a meeting with government officials.

“Because this is already a threat not only to Belarus.”

Thousands of opposition supporters have been taking to the streets for days against Lukashenko’s claim to have won re-election last Sunday with 80 percent of the vote, in the biggest challenge to his rule since he came to power in 1994.

Belarus is more tightly linked to Russia than any other country and the two form a “union state” with an integrated economic zone and military alliance.

“The protection of Belarus today is no less than the protection of our entire space, the union state, and an example to others. If Belarus cannot withstand it, this wave will roll there.”

Lukashenko Awards ‘Impeccable Service’ Medals to Security Forces Following Protest Crackdown

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has handed out medals to more than 300 members of the security forces for “impeccable service” days after a violent crackdown on post-election protesters.

Up to 7,000 people have been detained, hundreds injured and two have died in the days of protests against the Aug. 9 election results which showed an overwhelming victory for Lukashenko. Belarusian investigators said they received more than 600 complaints of injuries during arrest and 100 reports of injury inside detention cells.

Lukashenko awarded riot officers, police van drivers, prison guards and others for “exemplary performance of official duties,” according to the order published early Tuesday.

The order signed by Lukashenko is dated Aug. 13, the last day of police violence and detentions against anti-Lukashenko protesters.

Detainees have since been slowly released following public pressure from a growing wave of demonstrations and high-profile condemnations. Many of them have given disturbing accounts of beatings, humiliation and torture in detention.

The European Union last week announced that it will draw up new sanctions “against those responsible for the violence, arrests and fraud in connection with the election” in Belarus.

Following the cracksdown, Belarus Interior Minister Yury Karayev apologized on state television for the arrest of innocent people.

Around 122 people are still being held in detention in Minsk and other cities as of Monday, according to prosecutors.

Belarusian investigators said they are also looking into 124 reports of violence against law enforcement officials during protests.

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