US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday offered his support to protesters in Belarus, who have filled the streets daily since the disputed re-election of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.
“The United States has been inspired by the display of peaceful expression of the Belarusian people seeking to determine their own future,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“We stand by our long-term commitment to support Belarus’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their leaders and to choose their own path, free from external intervention.”
Pompeo said Washington remained concerned about “serious flaws” in the August 9 election, which main opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya says was rigged.
“The United States supports free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Belarusian people as a matter of principle. The August 9 elections did not meet that standard,” he said, backing international efforts to look into irregularities.
He urged the government in Minsk to engage in dialogue with the Coordination Council created by Tikhanovskaya’s allies to oversee efforts for a peaceful transition of power, even as Belarus opened a criminal investigation into what it called attempts by the opposition to “seize power.”
Pompeo also reiterated his condemnation of violence committed against protesters and journalists in a police crackdown.
“We call for the immediate release of those unjustly detained, and an accounting for those reported missing,” he said in the statement.