Polish, Belarusian FMs discuss need to release political prisoners

Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz spoke on Friday with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei and drew attention to, among other issues, the need to release political prisoners. He also stated support for independence, reported the MFA.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote about the telephone conversation between Jacek Czaputowicz and Vladimir Makei on Twitter. "The minister listened to information about the situation in Belarus and drew attention to the need to release political prisoners." Czaputowicz also "stressed support for independence and its development, which is a condition for authentic dialogue between the authorities and society," he stated.

The presidential elections will be held in Belarus on August 9. The incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko, as well as four other candidates are registered to participate in them: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Siarhei Cherachen, Hanna Kanapatskaya and Andrey Dmitriev.

The present election campaign in Belarus is distinguished by a very high level of citizen activity, which was already visible at the stage of collecting signatures, when people lined up in long queues to support potential candidates. According to experts, this shows the great need for changes and a weariness with Alexander Lukashenko's government. Authorities say support for the president, who has ruled the country for 26 years, is at the level of 76 percent.

During the election campaign, several criminal cases were initiated for, among other acts, riots and attacks on policemen. One of the would-be candidates, Viktar Babaryka, is in custody on charges of wide-scale fraud.

Also in custody is Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a popular video blogger, who is the husband of candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Authorities claim that he participated in the organisation of collective protests which violated public order.