Pushing for a resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus ahead of the presidential election, Brussels is meddling in the country’s internal affairs, Maria Zakharova, Spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday.
“On the back of Western partners’ continuous barrage of accusations concerning the Russian trail in the elections in their countries (all of them, as always, are evidence-free), it is kind of amazing that their own and real, not imaginary, intervention in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state through the initiation of such decisions by the [Human Rights] Council is taken for granted. We consider such an approach inadmissible,” state-run news agency TASS quotes Zakharova.
The top official also slammed the ‘extreme politicisation and emotional nature’ of discussions on the situation in a number of countries, including Belarus, at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The 2020 presidential voting is to take place on August, 9. Since the beginning of the election campaign, incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s would be rival Viktar Babaryka, might-have been opponent Syarhei Tsikhanouski, politicians Mikalai Statkevich and Pavel Sevyarynets, as well as dozens of people have been placed into custody. In late June, the Belarusian Interior Ministry also launched a probe into ‘illegal activities’ in which presidential hopeful Valery Tsapkala was allegedly involved.
According to Belarusian human right watchdogs, about 190 people have been arrested for a total of 2,607 days under administrative code articles used for political persecution. As many as 333 people have been fined for more than 265,275 rubles (more than $110,000). Human rights defenders also report at least 1,140 cases of arbitrary detentions that took place between 6 May and 20 July.
European diplomats have repeatedly warned the Belarusian authorities that sanctions against those involved in political persecution could be renewed due to increased repression.