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Belarus crisis: Russia blasts EU for 'illegal unilateral sanctions'

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By Alice Tidey
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko   -  

Russia has blasted the European Union for its "attempts to influence" the situation in Belarus and for opting to impose "illegal unilateral sanctions".

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters that "regrettably, [the] EU continues its attempt to influence [the] situation in Belarus."

"Instead of showing restraint and tact, crucial for creating conditions for inclusive national dialogue, the West once again opted for illegal unilateral sanctions," she added.

The EU has rejected the official results of the August 9 presidential elections in Belarus which credited incumbent Alexander Lukashenko with 80 per cent of the vote and condemned the authorities' violence against peaceful protesters.

European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen subsequently announced that the bloc would shortly issue targeted sanctions on the individuals responsible for violence, repression, and election fraud.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have already issued sanctions against 30 Belarusian officials including Lukashenko and his son Viktor, the country's ministers of interior and justice, the prosecutor-general and members of the Central Election Commission.

Estonia also announced on Wednesday that it had called for an informal meeting of the United Nations' Security Council to be held on Friday.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Belarusian opposition presidential candidate, is to speak at the meeting.

Tikhanovskaya, who ran for the country's top office in her husband's stead after the popular opposition blogger was imprisoned, fled Belarus following the election over fears for her safety.

She has since met with US officials and Finland's foreign minister. She also addressed members of the European parliament.

Zakharova described the informal UN meeting "as flagrant interference in domestic affairs."

"The post-election developments in Belarus do not pose a threat to international peace and security," she said.