Belarus to close borders with Poland and Lithuania

Blaming the West for 6-weeks-long protest wave, Lukashenko puts troops on high alert

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday announced he was putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, news wires reported. The decision underlines his repeated claim that the wave of 6-week protests is driven by the West.

“We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, put the army on high alert and close the state border on the west, primarily with Lithuania and Poland,” Lukashenko said at a women’s forum.

Lukashenko also said Belarus’ border with Ukraine would be strengthened. “I don’t want my country to be at war. Moreover, I don’t want Belarus and Poland, Lithuania to turn into a theater of military operations where our issues will not be resolved,” he said.

The US and the EU have criticised the presidential election as neither free nor fair, and urged Lukashenko to start talks with the opposition, a call he has rejected. On Thursday, the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the official election results and saying it would not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president once his current term expires on 5 November.

Belarus’ foreign ministry responded strongly, saying: “We are disappointed that the European Parliament, positioning itself as a serious, objective and democratic structure, could not find the political will to look beyond its nose, overcome one-sidedness and not become a hostage to conventional cliches.”

Earlier on Thursday, the main opposition candidate in the disputed presidential election Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya said that activists are compiling a list of law enforcement officers who were allegedly involved in violence against protesters denouncing the results of the vote. Nearly 7,000 people were detained and hundreds were brutally beaten by police during the first several days of post-election protests.

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