'Brutal repression' in Belarus worries Italy

'Brutal repression' in Belarus worries Italy


Italy is concerned by the ongoing crackdown in Belarus of pro-democracy protests - now in their third month - since the disputed re-election of president Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years.

"Italy is worried by the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrators, sends solidarity to the people of Belarus and asks for political prisoners to be freed," Di Maio told the upper house Senate.

" Lukashenko lacks democratic legitimacy," Di Maio went on.

"But we want keep the channels of communication open with the authorities in Minsk," he said.

Italy "doesn't want to trigger geopolitical competition between the European Union and Russia, Di Maio said.

During talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, Di Maio said he urged the Russian government to use its influence to stop the crackdown against the pro-democracy protests in Belarus.

Over 700 protesters were detained in what opposition activists say was the harshest crackdown since the August election.