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Belarus says West seeking to overthrow Lukashenko

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during his meeting with parliamentarians, members of Constitutional Commission and representatives of public administration bodies in Minsk on May 26, 2021. – Alexander Lukashenko said on May 26 that “attacks” on the country have crossed “red lines” after the diversion of a Ryanair flight over Belarusian airspace sparked a global outcry. (Photo by Maxim GUCHEK / BELTA / AFP)

Belarus on Tuesday slammed the latest US and UK sanctions, accusing the West of wanting to overthrow strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko and using the country’s human rights record as a cover.

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“Hiding behind the hypocritical slogans of protecting human rights and democracy, our Western opponents are in fact guided by cold geopolitical calculations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry charged the West with single-mindedly pushing for a “change of power in Belarus” and undermining the nation’s sovereignty.

Minsk said it would carefully study the latest US, UK and Canadian sanctions and “adopt adequate retaliatory measures”.

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Western governments have punished Lukashenko’s regime with waves of sanctions over a crackdown on dissent in Belarus that began a year ago when the country erupted in protests against his rule.

On Monday the United States, Britain and Canada announced new penalties on Belarus.

During an eight-hour news conference on Monday, 66-year-old Lukashenko denounced the United States and Britain for imposing new sanctions on his regime and insisted he won a “totally transparent” vote.”

“You are risking starting World War III,” he said. “Is that what you are trying to push us and the Russians to?”

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