At UN, Belarus diplomat bemoans Western actions against it

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The foreign minister of Belarus accused Western nations on Monday of carrying out “a large-scale hybrid war” against the country because it failed to change the government in elections last year, which he insisted were won by President Alexander Lukashenko.

Vladimir Makei made no mention of the opposition to Lukashenko and Western nations denouncing as a sham the August 2020 elections that gave him a sixth term, nor the months of protests against the outcome, some of which drew up to 200,000 people.

Belarusian authorities responded to the protests with beatings and arrests of more than 35,000 people, and eventually the repressions — and winter weather — took their toll, and the protests withered. Opposition leaders have been either jailed or forced to leave the country, and authorities have moved methodically to stamp out any sign of dissent.

Makei did not acknowledge the government crackdown, instead telling the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level meeting that Belarus has been drawn, against its will, “into the vortex” of a geopolitical war.

It has been targeted by the West, he said, “only because Belarus did not manage to act out the highly polished script of yet another color revolution to coincide with the presidential elections.”

“The West has not been able to accept the choice of the majority of Belarussians because this choice of the Belarusian electorate spoiled the plans of some strategists,” he said.

Sanctions by the European Union and the United States were imposed after both Lukashenko’s crackdown and the government’s diversion, in May, of a passenger jet to Minsk to arrest a dissident journalist.

The governments in neighboring Lithuania and Poland have accused Belarusian authorities of organizing a flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to their countries in retaliation for sanctions in recent months. Five migrants have died trying to cross from Belarus into the two countries, both EU members.

Makei protested strongly against Western sanctions, which he said violate international law, seriously damage the entire system of international relations and “increase the potential for conflict and enmity in international relations.”

As for the refugee issue, he said, the West “has fabricated a conflict with the refugees on the western border of Belarus” in order to “further demonize” the country. Makei blamed “irresponsible” policies and actions by Europe and the West, including in Afghanistan, for the millions of migrants trying to reach Europe, stressing that they aren’t wanted by any European country.

Makei also called human rights “a real weapon against undesirable and disobedient countries” and denounced some unnamed countries for arbitrarily defining the level of democracy in other countries and sticking “offensive labels” on some of them.

Today, Makei said, the world’s nations need to unite, help each other and take collective actions to overcome all disagreements and prevent the world from plunging “into chaos of another war, which would be the last in human history.”

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