Lukashenko accuses Germany, Poland of coup plans against him (Roundup)

Minsk - The authoritarian president of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, on Thursday openly accused neighbouring Poland and Germany of planning a coup against him.

'There were (in Germany and Poland) plans worked out for an overthrow of the constitutional order,' Lukashenko said in Minsk.

It was the first time that Lukashenko, who since 1996 has single- handedly ruled Belarus, had charged Berlin and Warsaw with ordering their secret services to attempt to remove him from power.

'This is not an invention of our intelligence agencies,' he said.

Belarus officials were this week dropped from the guest list of next month's prestigious Munich Security Conference because of human rights violations by the Eastern European regime.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described Lukashenko's statements as 'baseless allegations' to distract attention from his own wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Poland also dismissed his accusations as absurd and said that relations with Minsk would not be normalized unless all political prisoners were released.

Lukashenko also lashed out at the European Union, threatening the 'hardest possible reaction' should the bloc impose sanctions against his country.

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution supporting economic sanctions against Belarus following the December 19 election that handed Lukashenko a fourth term in office.

The European Union is to boycott his inauguration, officials in Brussels said Thursday.

'I can confirm that the (EU representative in Minsk) and the ambassadors of EU member states will not participate at the inauguration ceremony,' EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

A wide-reaching crackdown against the regime's opponents, with hundreds of Lukashenko critics arrested and dozens threatened with long-term jail sentences, followed allegations that the vote had been rigged in the president's favour.

Human rights activists have long complained of brutal methods of interrogation and torture used in Belarus to extract false confessions.

Lukashenko has defended the crackdown and his human rights record, saying his government will prosecute any person who participates in illegal gatherings or attempts to defame the state.


Partners: Social Network