Ratas joins Baltic colleagues in calling for new Belarus elections

From left, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Jüri Ratas, and Krisjanis Karins, Latvian premier, near Tartu Friday. Source: Social Media

Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) joined his Lithuanian and Latvian opposite numbers Friday, in calling for new, free and fair presidential elections in Belarus.

Ratas met with prime ministers Krisjanis Karins (Latvia) and Saulius Skvernelis (Lithuania) in Tartu, where the three expressed deep concern over the violent crackdown on peaceful protests post-election, political repression of the opposition by the authorities and the very fact the elections have widely been seen as rigged.

The Baltic prime ministers echoed their presidents, who issued a statement earlier in the week, and foreign ministers, who did same, in urging Belarusian authorities to refrain from any excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, and the release of all political prisoners and those that have been detained during the protests.

By the Belarusian authorities' own estimates, over 7,000 people have been detained since the election Sunday evening, which returned Alexander Lukashenko for his sixth consecutive term since 1994.

The prime ministers also urged the EU to get fully on board with providing support to Belarusian society and potentially issuing sanctions, but in a way which would not harm the bulk of the populace of that country.

Estonian citizen arrested in Belarus now freed

An Estonian national reported as having been arrested in Minsk earlier in the week has been released, the foreign ministry says.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told BNS that the man, named as Edgar Basmakov, who is an Estonian citizen, was release around 3 p.m. on Friday.

Daily Postimees says Basmakov was originally from Pärnu, and has lived in the U.K. and Finland at various times.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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