Poland says Lukashenko ouster allegations 'absurd'

Poland Thursday dismissed as "absurd" accusations by authoritarian Belarus President Lukashenko that Warsaw and Berlin sought to oust him through election protests and said EU economic sanctions against Minsk were likely.

"We consider any accusation regarding orchestrating an ouster or coup d'etat as absurd," Polish foreign ministry spokesman Marcin Bosacki told reporters in Warsaw.

"I don't know where these phantasmagoria come from," Bosacki said.

Warsaw also repeated earlier calls for Minsk to release all political prisoners.

Hundreds were jailed on December 19 in the wake of a protest by tens of thousands in the Belarus capital Minsk against what they called a rigged poll which gave incumbent Lukashenko a fourth presidential term.

Those detained included five of the nine candidates who challenged Lukashenko and a swathe of other leading opposition political and media figures.

"There will be no good and normal relations between Poland, the EU and Belarus until (Minsk) puts an end to this wave of repression, the largest in the country's history," Bosacki said.

The spokesman said the EU could decide next week on what measures to take against Belarus, adding that "economic sanctions are likely."

The European Union said on Wednesday it would reinstate a travel ban on Lukashenko if he fails to release opponents he jailed the night of his controversial December 19 re-election.

Washington is also exploring a range of possible sanctions.

Speaking in Moscow Thursday, Lukashenko vowed the toughest retaliation if the EU imposed sanctions on his nation and also accused Germany and Poland of plotting to oust him through election protests.

Lukashenko won 80 percent of the December ballot which international observers said was riddled with irregularities.

On Thursday the Belarus president also secured a promise from Moscow for a loan that will help the former Soviet republic build a nuclear power plant said to be worth six billion dollars.


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