KYIV, Sept 15 - Ukrainian lawmakers joined western countries in condemning the recent presidential election in Belarus by passing a motion that would enforce future sanctions against individuals involved in fixing elections and using violence against demonstrators, Fox News reported.
Protestors have taken to the streets in Minsk for weeks following the allegedly rigged Aug. 9 re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed to have won with 80 percent of the vote, while his opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, received only 10 percent of the vote.
The United States and the European Union have rejected the validity of the election, and both have considered placing sanctions on Belarus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin backed his longtime ally, Lukashenko, who has held the presidency for 26 years, and in a four-hour meeting Monday, granted the Belarusian leader a $1.5 billion loan.
Though Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that the loan holds no political strings attached.
Belarus' neighbor Ukraine has also condemned the harsh tactics the government has taken against demonstrators following the allegedly botched election after reports surfaced of disappearances and police brutality against many of the more than 7,000 detained demonstrators.
Putin reportedly congratulated the veteran president and offered Russian police forces to aid in controlling the protests. Though following the Monday talks, Putin said he will pull back the law enforcement units he has on the border for possible deployment.
Lukashenko has relied even more heavily on Russia for support following the international community’s condemnation.
The Belarus president has condemned the recent deployment of NATO troops to the region and offered to conduct more joint military drills with Russia.
The United States Army has initiated the deployment of 500 U.S. troops to Lithuania, which neighbors Belarus, as a part of a NATO “deterrence factor” in Eastern Europe. (fn/ez)