Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that the unrest gripping Belarus will soon be resolved, during a a phone call on Saturday, the Kremlin said in a statement.
“These problems should not be exploited by destructive forces seeking to harm the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.
The Kremlin said it was “confident” of a swift resolution in the matter.
Meanwhile, several thousand people began to gather in the capital Minsk after the opposition called for more protests against Lukashenko’s disputed reelection. Many laid flowers at the site where a demonstrator was killed earlier this week.
Huge crowds have been taking to the streets daily since Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory on Sunday. In the biggest challenge to his 26-year rule, demonstrators accuse him of rigging the vote and demand he step down.
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Lukashenko had earlier warned that the demonstrations could have ramifications beyond Belarus’ borders.
“The aggression against Belarus is developing. We need to contact Putin, so that I can talk with him now,” Lukashenko told government officials, according to Belta. “Because this is already a threat not only in Belarus.”
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Belarus is part of a “union state” with Russia that comprises an integrated economic zone and military alliance.
“The protection of Belarus today is no less than the protection of our entire space, the union state, and an example to others,” Lukashenko said. “If Belarus cannot withstand it, this wave will roll there.”
Officials said that two protesters have died, and almost 7,000 have been arrested, in the post-election demonstrations. Rights organization Amnesty International has decried “a campaign of widespread torture and other ill-treatment by the Belarusian authorities who are intent on crushing peaceful protests by any means.”
The European Union announced on Friday that it would impose new sanctions on Belarusian officials who are responsible for the violence.
nm/ (AP, Reuters, dpa)