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Doing nothing to help Belarus 'is not an option,' Lithuanian FM tells Euronews

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Linas Linkevicius told Euronews that Europe should consider sanctions against Belarus.
Linas Linkevicius told Euronews that Europe should consider sanctions against Belarus.   -   Copyright  Mindaugas Kulbis/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Lithuania's Foreign Minister says his country will "do the utmost" to help in neighbouring Belarus following Sunday's hotly disputed election result.

Linas Linkevicius described the widespread protests and violence as "lamentable" and said the country's authorities are demonstrating "unnecessary power".

"We will definitely do the utmost to help and try to find some understanding and start a political dialogue," Linkevicius told Euronews.

"We are not interfering in domestic affairs but we are not staying aside and observing what is happening."

"We believe that we need not just a stable neighbourhood but also [a] progressive one".

The EU's foreign minister has also condemned the violence in Belarus, describing the elections as “neither free nor fair”.

"We have to provide a clear, consolidated European position," said Linkevicius

"All options should be on the table, including possible sanctions. To do nothing is not an option".

On Twitter, Linkevicius added that his country was considering "accepting Belarusians, suffering from the ongoing brutalities" on humanitarian grounds.

Tsikhanouskaya definitely experienced 'pressure and probably blackmailing'

Linkevicius also confirmed to Euronews that Belarus' leading opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was safe in Lithuania.

The former English teacher said she decided "absolutely independently" to flee her country for Lithuania for the wellbeing of her family.

"She was kept in detention for around seven hours," the Lithuanian Foreign Minister told Euronews.

"She is still recovering after the stress ... but she is in good spirits".

An investigation by The Cube showed that a video of Tsikhanouskaya — in which she urged supporters not to take to the streets — was filmed in Belarus' Central Electoral Commission, before her journey to Vilnius.

"It is difficult to say how she was treated but she experienced definitely pressure and probably blackmailing," said Linkevicius.

Tsikhanouskaya's husband, an opposition blogger, has also been in prison in Belarus since his arrest in May.

Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has blamed the mass protests on criminals and unemployment.

Linas Linkevicius told Euronews that he was not directly in contact with President Lukashenko, but had consulted with representatives of Belarus' government on the eve of the election.

"I was given assurances that it was not in the interests of the government to use excessive force and that they will act legally but unfortunately we have not seen that happen in reality," said Linkevicius.

"Only a clear and consistent message will [...] influence this situation," he told Euronews, adding that "another statement of deep concern will not help".

Click on the video player above to watch the full interview.