Poland, Lithuania recall ambassadors from Belarus

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland and Lithuania have recalled their ambassadors from neighboring Belarus, where hundreds of people have been detained during massive protests against the authoritarian president who won a sixth term in office in an election widely seen as rigged.

The foreign ministries of Poland and Lithuania, nations that offer support to the Belarusian opposition, have said they were recalling their ambassadors from Minsk for consultations. Poland suggested ambassadors from some other European Union nations were also being recalled.

The move by Poland and Lithuania followed Friday’s announcement by Belarus that it was recalling its ambassadors from the two countries and urging them to do the same. Belarus also demanded that Poland and Lithuania scale down their missions in the country because of their “destructive activity.”

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau tweeted late Monday to say that “in coordination” with EU bodies “we’ve made a joint decision to recall for consultations some of the ambassadors accredited to Belarus.”

Rau thanked “EU partners for an unequivocal expression of solidarity with Poland and Lithuania. Support for Belarusians and their efforts to democratize the country remains a priority to us.”

Poland and Lithuania are hosting some leaders of the Belarusian opposition and are taking steps to win EU and international support for efforts toward a democratic Belarus.

Unprecedented mass protests have rocked Belarus ever since Aug. 9 presidential election that gave authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, a sixth straight term, with 80% of vote, but which the opposition says was rigged.