LONDON, June 13. /TASS/. G7 leaders have urged Belarusian authorities to hold "new free and fair elections," according to the final communique approved on Sunday after the three-day summit of leaders of the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, the US, France and Japan in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, UK.
"We call on the regime to: change course and implement all the recommendations of the independent expert mission under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism; enter into meaningful dialogue with all sectors of society; and hold new free and fair elections," the 25-page document said.
Nationwide demonstrations engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. The unrest has been cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been calling for more protests.
The Group of Seven countries will cooperate on holding accountable those involved in the incident with the emergency landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk with blogger Roman Protasevich aboard, one of the co-founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which Minsk recognized as an extremist entity, according to the final communique approved on Sunday after the three-day summit of leaders of the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, the US, France and Japan in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, UK.
"We are deeply concerned by the Belarusian authorities’ continuing attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law, as exemplified by the forced landing of flight FR4978 and the arrest of an independent journalist and his partner. We will work together to hold those responsible to account, including through imposing sanctions, and to continue to support civil society, independent media and human rights in Belarus," the 25-page document said.
On May 23, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair plane that took off from Athens made an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport after a reported bomb threat. A MiG-29 fighter jet alert crew was scrambled to escort the plane. After the landing, the plane was inspected and no bomb was found on board. The Belarusian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into a false bomb alert. Among the passengers on that flight was Roman Protasevich who was detained by law enforcement agents once the plane had landed in the Belarusian capital. Russian national Sofia Sapega was also detained together with him. On Sunday evening, the plane left Minsk airport and continued on to Vilnius.