32 foreign diplomats to attend Lukashenko inauguration

Foreign diplomats from 32 states and international organizations will attend the inauguration of reelected Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday, despite EU calls to boycott the ceremony, a spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron rod since 1994 and has been dubbed by the United States "Europe's last dictator," gained a landslide victory in polls on December 19 with 79.67 percent of the vote.

"The heads of 32 diplomatic missions and international organizations in Minsk have confirmed their participation in the ceremony," spokesman Andrey Savinykh said without specifying the names of the states and organizations.

More than 600 people, including presidential candidates, were detained in the Belarusian capital during a police clampdown on demonstrators after the elections. International monitors called the polls "flawed."

Earlier on Thursday diplomatic sources in Brussels said EU ambassadors to Belarus would boycott the inauguration ceremony in protest against the brutal crackdown.

On Thursday the European Parliament voted on in favor of sanctions against Lukashenko and his top aides over post-election beatings and arrests.

The sanctions, including a travel ban and freeze on assets, will remain in place until all the detainees are released.

MINSK, January 20 (RIA Novosti)


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