Byelorussian ambassador reacts to criticism from Slovakia's Foreign Affairs Ministry

Violence on the part of the Byelorussian government against people who protested the recent re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in what some called a manipulated election was the last point of talks between Slovak lawmakers from the Slovakia-Byelorussian friendship group with Vladimir Serpikov, the Belarusian Ambassador to Slovakia, the SITA newswire reported.

First priority was given to discussion about the exchange of students, cultural exchange, and mutual trade, said Robert Madej (Smer), the head of the parliamentary friendship group for Belarus and other nine countries, to SITA on January 17, adding that friendship groups are first of all about development of economic, cultural and civil cooperation. This is how Madej reasoned his decision to not speak about the post-election violence in Belarus.

Eventually, Milan Laurencik, a SaS member of the parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security raised the sensitive topic with the ambassador. Serpikov responded that the same demonstrations as those which ended in violence after the December presidential race had been held in 2008 after the election but they were calm.

The ambassador stated that most people detained during the protests have been released. Only 26 are in pre-trial custody and have been charged while some five or six are in custody and are yet to be charged.

Serpikov said that the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry had issued three sharp statements and one top ministerial official had called to Belarus about the situation in the country. The ambassador said he is surprised that Slovakia has a different attitude towards demonstrations in Belarus and, for example in Tunisia, which he said has not brought any similar statements from Slovakia.


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