Russian president Vladimir Putin has held talks with with his Belarus counterpart Alexandre Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, and has called on the opposition movement there to stop bashing their president and help build the former Soviet state. Putin is one of only a handful of world leaders to have endorsed Lukashenko’s re-election.
“I hope that after emotions calm everyone who took part in the election campaign will focus their efforts on developing their own country in a positive direction”, Putin said, adding Lukashenko told him he intended to work constructively with all political forces. Many in Belarus and abroad claim the election was rigged. That has not prevented the authorities for jailing opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich for 15 days, allegedly for taking part in an illegal political demonstration. This was on the 26th, for the annual march to commemorate the Chernobyl disaster. In the past this has been used by the opposition to voice their concerns, but without incident or arrests. The opposition has promised it will take to the streets again on May Day, nominally to protest at the imposition of short-term contracts for workers.