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Belarusian opposition ready for contacts with Russia

On August 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Belarusian election was not perfect, stressing that the Belarusian leadership admits that

MINSK, August 20. /TASS/. The Coordination Council set up by the Belarusian opposition is ready for contacts with Russia, it is not considering undermining the relations between both states, Pavel Latushko, member of the council’s bureau, told TASS on Thursday.

"We are absolutely ready. We are ready to make our stance known. We are often accused of having a program whose goal is to destroy the relations with Russia, this is complete nonsense, there is no such program," he said, answering a corresponding question.

Latushko noted that the Coordination Council does not plan to change the existing relations with Russia. "We are not considering any foreign policy prospects of our country, we are working with what we have today - very friendly and profound relations with the Russian Federation," he stressed. However, Latushko noted that Belarus also wishes to cooperate with the EU. "Belarus is part of the European civilization historically. We are interested in having good relations with the EU. We are interested in building a strong and stable bridge between the East and the West," he explained.

According to Latushko, the council considers the statement made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Belarusian election as a call for dialogue. "We have taken into account the statements made by the EU and Russia <…> The Russian foreign minister said that the election did not go perfectly," he noted. According to Latushko, "the Russian side is calling for dialogue" in this way. "We have offered dialogue many times, we are ready to launch it right now," he assured, stressing however that Belarus must resolve its problems by itself.

Latushko added that he does not plan to leave Belarus despite the threats he is receiving. "I am not planning to leave the country," he said.

On August 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with 60 minutes program on Rossiya-1 TV channel that the Belarusian election was not perfect, stressing that the Belarusian leadership admits that. The top diplomat stated that the situation in Belarus should not be used to undermine the dialogue between the government and the public, expressing hope that the Belarusian nation will be able to resolve the problems facing the country.

Belarus held a presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko received 80.1% of the vote, while his main rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya garnered 10.12%. Protests erupted in the country's capital of Minsk and several other cities following the presidential vote, leading to clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers. Several thousand people have been detained, and dozens of law enforcement officers and protesters have been injured. The Belarusian opposition established a Coordination Council for the transition of power in the republic. Its first session took place on August 19.