No political prisoners in Belarus: Alexander Lukashenko

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Feb 12, 2021, 08:20 PM(IST)

Lukashenko Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Mass protests have gripped the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million people since official results from the August 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory and a sixth term at office.

Alexander Lukashenko, the embattled Belarusian president who has ruled the country for 27 years, has said that his country has never had any political prisoners.

"If someone takes a criminal code or our other laws and shows at least one political article in the criminal code and says somebody has been sentenced based on that political article, we will think which decisions to make. We have never had, and we don't have, any political prisoners," said Alexander Lukashenko, in a speech to the national assembly.

Lukashenko also said that a new constitution will be adopted in a referendum this year.

"Probably, we will combine it with local elections," he said.

Mass protests have gripped the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million people since official results from the August 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory and a sixth term at office.

The main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and her supporters have dismissed the result as rigged, and some poll workers also have described manipulations of the vote.

Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people.

Police have used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies.

According to human rights advocates, more than 30,000 people have been detained since the protests began, and thousands of them were brutally beaten.

Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for more than 26 years, relentlessly stifling dissent and relying on cheap energy and other subsidies from his main ally, Russia.

(With inputs from agencies)

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