Top European Officials Call For Release Of Belarus Protesters

The head of the European Parliament today called for the release of all those still detained by Belarusian authorities during violent protests against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection.

Jerzy Buzek told a special European Parliament meeting on Belarus that the European Union must apply pressure on Lukashenka's government.

"We can express ourselves that by our opinion today, the Lukashenka government clearly lacks democratic legitimacy," Buzek said. "And from this point of view, it is necessary to have a revision of the EU policy toward Minsk."

Buzek also called for the immediate release of the 31 activists charged on January 11 with organizing protests after the controversial December 19 presidential poll, won overwhelmingly by Lukashenka.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today that Europe should discuss reviving sanctions against Belarus.

Belarusian authorities have released hundreds of people but are still holding some of the country's most prominent opposition activists and journalists, as well as four presidential candidates.

On January 11, authorities also said police identified 120 people who "actively participated in mass disturbances on December 19."

compiled from agency reports


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