Pompeo calls on Lukashenko to release US adviser

Photo of author

By admin

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday to call on him to release a US political adviser, the State Department said.

• Read also: Belarus: opposition in the street, despite the threat of live ammunition

• Read also: Human Rights: New Canadian Sanctions Against Belarus

• Read also: [EN IMAGES] Belarus: arrests and brutal repression of a large demonstration in Minsk

A specialist in political strategy and a graduate of Harvard University, Vitali Shkliarov has advised presidential candidates in the United States, Russia and Ukraine.

He was arrested in Belarus on July 29, before the presidential election on August 9 in that country and charged by the Belarusian authorities with organizing actions that violate public order.

Lukashenko, in power since 1994, was officially declared the winner of the August 9 election with nearly 80% of the vote against 10% for his main competitor, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The opposition claimed that the ballot had been distorted by fraud and Ms Tikhanovskaya claimed victory.

This controversial election was followed by numerous opposition demonstrations, some of which were harshly repressed, and international protests. Most of the opposition leaders have been arrested or have gone abroad.

Before the presidential election, Mr. Shkliarov actively commented on the Belarusian political situation. In July, a few days before being arrested, he wrote in the Russian-language version of the American magazine Forbes that Mr. Lukashenko’s election campaign was based on “populism and brute force”.

Mr. Pompeo called Mr. Lukashenko on Saturday to demand the release of the American adviser.

“The Secretary of State called for the complete release and immediate departure from Belarus of the wrongly detained US citizen Vitali Shkliarov and reaffirmed the US support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus,” said a spokesperson for the State Department.

Mr Shkliarov’s lawyer said last Monday that his client had been placed under house arrest.

Besides his activities abroad, Mr. Shkliarov, who was born in Belarus, in the city of Gomel, worked in the United States in the presidential campaigns of the democratic candidates Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

In early October, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), James Gilmore, called for the immediate release of Mr. Shkliarov. He claimed that the counselor was under extreme psychological pressure and physical abuse ”.

Mr. Shkliarov’s wife, Heather Shkliarov, is an American diplomat who is preparing to take up a post in Kiev. She expressed deep concern for her husband’s health in a statement released in September by US media.

Leave a Comment