Moscow 'negative' on Minsk crackdown: minister

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia will not join the European Union in pushing for further sanctions on Belarus but the Kremlin has a "negative perception" of its crackdown on the opposition, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We have not imposed any sanctions and are not threatening new ones like the European Union," Lavrov said in Moscow after an earlier meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

Lavrov stressed that Russia did not expect Belarus to meet standards on human rights that Moscow does not impose on itself.

"Moscow does not set Belarus standards for fulfilling international obligations on human rights and freedoms that it does not set before itself," Lavrov said.

Nevertheless, he said Moscow did have a "negative" view of the fact that Minsk convicted presidential candidates who stood against Lukashenko.

"There remains a negative perception of the fact that all the presidential candidates ended up with real or suspended sentences," Lavrov said.

The EU is considering imposing economic sanctions against Belarussian state companies after a string of political trials that slapped prison terms on dozens of opposition protestors.

Belarus has struggled to secure a bailout loan from its traditional partner Russia to rescue its economy.

Lavrov said he was aware of reports in Belarussian media that said Moscow was "in solidarity" with the European Union's criticism of the crackdown, but said the reports "do not completely reflect reality."

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Minsk last December after disputed presidential polls awarded Lukashenko a fourth term with nearly 80 percent of the vote.

Police detained nearly 200 protestors and held dozens for months, jailing three former candidates for up to six years.

© 2011 AFP

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