NATO rejects participation in Belarus repression

The NATO alliance said Friday it would refuse to deal with any Belarus official who had been involved in the widespread repression of peaceful demonstrations following the contentious elections two weeks ago. NATO was already reappraising its relations with Belarus and Friday's statement said it would push democracy and reform in Belarus and "explain its principles and purposes to the Belarusian people."

"Disregard for the rights of citizens to peaceful assembly and free expression and the misuse of the security forces by a partner country are cause for grave concern," the alliance said. Belarus signed NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1995, but its participation has been modest. Hundreds of other opposition activists in Belarus are still in jail following the disputed March 19 election that handed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a third term, reports the AP.


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