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Ukraine president warns Belarus could face violent fate

25 Sep 2020 / 13:22 H.

BRATISLAVA: The crisis in Belarus could turn violent as it did in Ukraine unless the government there opens a dialogue with its own people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Thursday.

Speaking during a visit to Slovakia, Zelensky compared the situation in Belarus to the mass protests in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 that ended up toppling a Russia-backed president.

“If the government fails to find a possibility to lead a dialogue with their own people, this government will not exist anymore,“ he told journalists after talks with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova in the capital Bratislava.

“We know what bloodshed is. We buried Ukrainians killed on Maidan, we saw people and buildings burning,“ he said, referring to the momentous protests on Independence Square in Kiev.

“What we see today is if the government does not stop these actions, especially the actions of law enforcement bodies directed against its nation, it will receive a very powerful response from the people,“ Zelensky said.

Zelensky’s spokeswoman Yuliya Mendel told AFP also on Thursday that a presidential visit to Belarus scheduled for October had been cancelled.

Belarus, a former Soviet republic like Ukraine, has been rocked by unprecedented mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko ever since his disputed re-election on Aug 9.

Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has become increasingly reliant on Russian support as the demonstrations have continued.

Ukraine joined many other countries on Wednesday in saying it did not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus following his secrecy-shrouded inauguration ceremony. — AFP

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