Clinton condemns Belarus elections

Secretary of State Clinton condemns the handling of the Belarus elections in a statement. AFP photo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Belarus on Thursday for its handling of the Dec. 19 presidential elections and the violence that ensued against activists and journalists in the aftermath.

In a State Department statement, Clinton "condemned the conduct of Belarus' presidential election and the crackdown on political leaders and activists, civil society representatives and journalists." The statement went on, saying that Clinton "stressed her concern for detainees and for their family members," and noted "the U.S. Embassy in Minsk's efforts to remain in close contact with them."

Clinton also reiterated support for the two joint statements already released by the U.S. and the EU condemning the violence and calling for the immediate release of all who are detained.

Belarus on Friday ordered the closure of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, office in Minsk, in an apparent response to the transatlantic security group's stinging criticism of its presidential polls.

OSCE monitors issued a damning report on the polls that listed a litany of vote count violations, saying its observers assessed the tally "as bad and very bad" in almost half of all observed polling stations.

President Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the election with nearly 80 percent of the vote. The opposition said the vote was rigged, and international monitors criticized it as flawed.


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