Germany dismisses Belarus plot charge

Germany on Monday sharply denied allegations that it had conspired with Poland to topple Belarus's strongman President Alexander Lukashenko by organising mass protests against his re-election.

"These allegations are completely absurd and unfounded," foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said, when asked about an editorial published Friday in Sovyetskaya Belorussia (Soviet Belarussia), the official newspaper of the presidential administration.

"It is a complete fiction. We refute these charges wholeheartedly," he added.

Peschke noted that the German government's top human-rights official, Markus Loening, had made this point during a visit to Minsk at the weekend.

Sovyetskaya Belorussia said the German and Polish secret services had devised the plot to overthrow Lukashenko with giant demonstrations after elections in December and Poland had even trained opposition activists.

Tens of thousands of people protested on election night in Minsk against what they called an unfair poll which gave incumbent strongman Lukashenko a fourth presidential term.

The protest was followed by a violent crackdown and the detention of more than 600 people, including most of the candidates who stood against Lukashenko.

EU states have condemned the brutal suppression of protests and warned that Lukashenko risks complete isolation if it continues. However this was the first time that Minsk has explicitly accused European states of being behind the protests.

Poland and Germany have been frontline critics of the post-election crackdown, with their foreign ministers, along with counterparts from Sweden and the Czech Republic, publishing a blistering critique of the polls.


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