Austria’s foreign minister joins call for sanctions against Belarus

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FILE PHOTO: Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on Friday supported calls from other European Union member states to consider sanctions against Belarus in response to a violent crackdown on post-election protests.

The sanctions would have to be targeted against those responsible for the violence against protesters, arbitrary detentions and internet blockades, Schallenberg told ORF radio.

Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential election with around 80% of the vote, triggering clashes between security forces and opposition supporters in which at least two protesters have died and thousands have been detained.

EU foreign ministers will meet on Friday at 1300 GMT via a video call to discuss sanctions.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the election should be rerun.

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