Hundreds detained during 50th day of protests in Belarus

Wednesday, 30 Sep, 2020

It is the second time the UK's new sanctions regime has been used and Mr Lukashenko is the first national leader to be made subject to it.

Read alsoRisks "immeasurable" for Ukraine: Kuleba on Lukashenko's friendship with RussiaLukashenko has responded to Macron's call, referring the French president as an "immature" politician against the background of own decades-long experience, BELTA reported. Meanwhile, Britain said Thursday it was working on sanctions and also was in discussions with the USA and Canada.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president (male, Russian, 21 sec): "And now, taking into account the hard situation in which the Republic of Belarus finds itself, including under conditions of unprecedented external pressure after the presidential elections, I would like to repeat once again: relations between Russia and Belarus are timeless and all-weather".

The Belarusian president even went for a personal snap at Macron, hinting that the latter might get "personal problems at home" for paying "too much attention" to Lukashenko's rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

Macron told Russian leader Putin during a meeting in August that he was "very anxious about the situation in Belarus and the violence that citizens have faced during the elections", but suggestions for dialogue never materialised.

The EU is pondering sanctions for top Belarusian officials, but it failed to agree on imposing them this week and plans to continue discussions in the coming week.

Canada has also imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and 10 other high-ranking Belarusian officials for human rights violations, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mr Macron has said that Mr Putin, Mr Lukashenko's main ally, is favourable to mediation in the Belarus crisis by the OSCE.

Tuesday's meeting with Macron was Tikhanovskaya's most high-profile so far.

She has previously met leaders in neighbouring Poland and Lithuania, which have taken a lead in European diplomacy on Belarus, and with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Belarusian opposition figure and ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is now holding a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Lithuanian capital, she seeks France's participation in negotiations on a new presidential election in Belarus, Tikhanovskaya's press service said on Tuesday.

A former Soviet collective farm manager, the 66-year-old Lukashenko has been in power for over a quarter of a century and shows no inclination to resign, buoyed by support from traditional ally Russian Federation. "Is it possible to live peacefully with such men?" she said.

Plans by the European Union to slap sanctions on Belarus have fallen into disarray, sources say, a hostage to internal politicking that one EU official described as a threat to the bloc's credibility.

But Putin on Tuesday said in televised remarks that Belarus is in a "difficult situation" and is facing "unprecedented external pressure".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov downplayed Macron's talks with Tikhanovskaya, saying it amounted to a meeting between the "French president and a Belarusian citizen".