Russia must help with democratization of Belarus

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Tuesday the European Union will rely on Russia to pressure Belarus to end its crackdown on the political opposition and its supporters. "We hope that Russia will use its considerable influence to persuade Belarus to take measures which will allow that country to re-enter the European family of democracies," Barroso told the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, a gathering of several hundred parliamentarians from the council's 46 member states.

Barroso spoke a day after the EU placed a visa ban on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and 30 other senior officials to protest his re-election last month in a vote that international observers said was rigged. The measure, approved at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg , was also meant to punish the country's leadership for cracking down on the opposition and its supporters.

Barroso said Belarus will not be eligible to receive help in the framework of the EU's "European Neighborhood Policy" a program to promote tighter economic, trade and security cooperation until the rule of law is established in the ex-Soviet republic, reports the AP.


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