Di Maio calls for new elections in Belarus

Italy concerned says FM in call to opposite number

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 7 - Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Monday called for fresh elections in Belarus after last month's poll, widely viewed as rigged, that led to the confirmation of long-time President Alexander Lukashenko.
    Di Maio said Italy was "very concerned" about the situation in Belarus and urged new elections there "complying with the highest international standards".
    He said the EU was set to issue sanctions targeted at individuals held responsible for "the violence and falsification of results".
    The EU also gave its full support to internal dialogue between Lukashenko and the opposition, Di Maio said.
    He said he had passed on these messages in a phone call he had requested with his Belarus opposite number Vladimir Makei.
    Unidentified masked men snatched the leading Belarusian opposition figure, Maria Kolesnikova, from the street in the centre of the capital, Minsk, on Monday and drove her away in a minivan, witnesses told local media.
    Kolesnikova was one of the campaign partners of the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory against the long-ruling president, Alexander Lukashenko, in disputed elections on 9 August.
    Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has rejected international calls to hold fresh free and fair elections.


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