Belarus says sanctions by Baltic states ‘hasty steps,’ vows to reciprocate

Belarus has denounced three Baltic states for taking the “hasty steps” of imposing sanctions on Minsk, vowing to respond with reciprocal measures.

“We have said before that Belarus will need to take adequate measures to respond to the initiators of these steps. This will be done,” Anatoly Glaz, the spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, told RIA news agency on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia imposed travel bans on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and 29 other officials over what they said were the rigging of the August 9 election in Belarus and violence against protesters after the vote.

Lukashenko won a sixth consecutive term in the election. The Belarusian opposition and Western countries quickly alleged voter fraud, and mass protests followed.

The European Union (EU), meanwhile, has been working on a list of Belarusian individuals — expected to exclude Lukashenko — to target with similar sanctions.

Belarusian opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who lost the election, has urged students to hold a one-day nationwide boycott of schools and universities on Tuesday, as the new school year begins.

Lukashenko has denied voter fraud and proposed the drafting of a new constitution less reliant on the head of state.

Speaking to Chairman of the Supreme Court Valentin Sukalo on Monday, Lukashenko referred to Belarus’ political system as “somewhat authoritarian.”

Work has already begun on drafting a new constitution, which will be put to a referendum.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Lukashenko to Moscow in a sign of support.

Last week, Putin announced that Moscow and Minsk had agreed to form a reserve of Russian law enforcement officers to be sent to Belarus to help maintain security if necessary.

But Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the situation in Belarus was under control and that there was no need to dispatch the reserve force.


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