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The Foreign Ministry’s statement on the so-called parliamentary and local elections in Belarus of 25 February

Created: 2024.02.26 / Updated: 2024.02.27 08:56

In recent years, following the rigged elections of 2020 and mass protests in Belarus, the regime of Alexander Lukashenko has transformed into a totalitarian dictatorship that aims to maintain power and complete control of the country and its citizens. The human rights situation in the country has become critical: the number of political prisoners is rising, opposition parties are banned, all independent media outlets and non-governmental organisations shut down, strict censorship was imposed, repression and intimidation continue to deter any participation in democratic processes and attempts to defend fundamental rights and freedoms in protests. Human rights organisations have identified thousands of cases of torture and cruel treatment of the Belarusian people by force structures. There is no information on the fate of many political prisoners; it is unclear if they are still alive and healthy. All this has become a common practice of the Belarusian regime aimed at undermining attempts by Belarusians to protest or resist. Moreover, the Lukashenko regime continues to use aggressive rhetoric and pursues a hostile foreign policy towards its neighbours – weaponising irregular migration to destabilise the situation in Lithuania and other EU countries, disregarding international nuclear safety standards, supporting the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, etc.

In the face of brutal repression, the Lukashenko regime held tightly controlled parliamentary and local elections on 25 February this year, paving the way for the formation of a new body foreseen in the country’s constitution as amended in 2022 – the ‘All-Belarusian People’s Assembly’ –  to extend Lukashenko’s rule.

Lithuania considers this demonstrative, undemocratic process (called “elections”) illegal and does not recognise its results. The Lukashenko regime in Belarus is illegal and criminal. Lukashenko’s domestic and foreign policy actions aimed at cementing his grip on power and concluding new international agreements that further limit the sovereignty of the Belarusian people are and will be considered null and void.
 
The authoritarian leader completely ignores the aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their leaders and to choose their path. The only way out of the deadlock is to immediately start a comprehensive dialogue with the civil society and democratic forces of Belarus, led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, on new genuinely democratic elections, monitored by the OSCE-ODIHR international observers and held in line with internationally recognised standards for independent, free and fair elections.
 
Lithuania stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus, who continue to fight for an independent, free, democratic and European Belarus.

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