Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan spoke at the OSCE meeting condemning the election fraud and the cruelty of the Belarusian authorities towards people defending their rights
The United States called on the Belarusian authorities to respect their OSCE election obligations and respect human rights. This is stated in the address of Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan to the Special Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna.
Speaking at the OSCE meeting, Bigan spoke about his meeting with the Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“I was inspired by her courage and determination to defend the Belarusian people in their peaceful demands to choose their government and their own future… She asked my government to respect the sovereignty of Belarus. I assured her that we would do so and that we expect all the other governments here today to do the same,” Bigan said.
The Deputy Secretary of State said that it is clear to the whole world that the elections held on August 9 in Belarus were rigged.
“The United States strongly condemns the brutality committed by the Belarusian authorities after the elections against peaceful demonstrators and journalists, including the mass detention of almost 7,000 Belarusian citizens, as well as the ongoing efforts to block the Internet and use security forces to intimidate those who participate in peaceful demonstrations and protests,” Bigan said.
He stressed that the United States firmly supports the right of the Belarusian people to demand from their government to respect the principles for which the OSCE stands for: free and fair elections and the protection of human rights. At the same time, the United States does not seek to control or decide the fate of the Belarusian people – it is necessary to decide the Belarusians themselves, Bigan stressed.
Stephen Bigan also stressed the need to release all people unjustly detained in Belarus, including U.S. citizen Vitaly Shklyarov, who remains in prison, refusing to admit crimes he did not commit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also commented on the situation in Belarus.
Speaking on Friday about Putin’s statement about Russian security forces ready to come to the aid of Lukashenko’s regime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she hoped that “such forces will not be deployed.”
So far, the West has acted cautiously, balancing its sympathies to the nascent Belarusian democratic movement with concern about the provocation of Russian interference. EU foreign ministers on Thursday discussed sanctions against 20 representatives of the Belarusian government to force Lukashenko to hold new elections.
Merkel told reporters that she tried to talk to Lukashenko on the phone, but he refused. She said that freedom of expression and the right to protest “must be fought. People should be allowed to do this themselves, without outside interference, from anywhere.”
This week Lukashenko accused the West of concentrating troops on the borders of Belarus. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has denied the accusation.
“We respect sovereignty, and NATO is not engaged in building up military power near Belarus,” he told Reuters, “We call on Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent country, Belarus.”